FEARS that plans to develop a former factory site could put up to 60 jobs ‘in jeopardy’ have been dismissed by planning chiefs.

Planning permission up to 425 homes on land previously occupied by Electrolux, at Merrington Lane Industrial Estate, Spennymoor, has been in place since 2013.

A new spine road through the site has now been approved despite concerns from manufacturing firm J Mitchinson Ltd about the impact the development could have on its day-to-day business operations.

Councillor Liz Maddison said: “My interest is securing a solution that will protect Mr Mitchinson’s business and his workforce. The Merrington Lane site was once a thriving part of the town and Mr Mitchinson acquired the site approximately six years ago.

“Through county council involvement we’ve put him in touch with Business Durham to ensure the growth of his company and there are options open to him.

“But he needs time to enable those to come to fruition and further housing development will create immediate restrictions to the loading bay of Mr Mitchinson’s premises.”

Cllr Maddison was speaking at Tuesday's meeting of Durham County Council’s county planning committee, where a representative of ELG Planning, a consultancy acting for J Mitchinson Ltd, said the road changes could lead to queuing traffic.

But this was refuted by a council highways officer, who said the firm’s projections of 50 HGVs over a 24-hour period was not considered a ‘significant volume of traffic’.

Despite this, Cllr Kevin Thompson called for a decision to be deferred to allow an agreement to be reached between the firm and Homes England, the applicant behind the plans, and protect jobs he claimed were ‘in jeopardy’.

A representative of Homes England vowed the company’s rights of access to its base were ‘fully recognised’ and would be ‘maintained during construction and after development’.

The committee voted unanimously in favour of the application.

Cllr John Clare said: “We have no tangible evidence that any of [the objectors’ arguments are] actually the case – these are just statements made without any evidence.”