Controversial plans for a £50m designer outlet centre to be built at Scotch Corner have been approved by the Secretary of State after a public inquiry.
The plans, unanimously agreed by Richmondshire District Council last year, were called in after concerns were raised about the impact on local communities.
But, to the delight of local leaders who say it will bring a huge boost to the region, owners can now press ahead with plans which will bring an estimated 2.75 million visitors to the area each year and create 700 jobs.
“Today’s decision is wonderful news for Richmondshire - and the economy of our area,” said leader of Richmondshire District Council, Yvonne Peacock, last night. “The knock on effect for the area will be immense and we are very excited to see work on the scheme begin.”
Ian Threlfall, deputy leader, said: “It’s an absolutely tremendous boost for the region, and quite a coup for Richmondshire.
“It’s going to impact right through the community. We are absolutely over the moon, delighted.
“Having something like that right on our doorstep is fabulous news. It’s going to bring tourists in, and it will be great not just for the area but for the whole of Yorkshire.”
The application for the outlet centre south-west of Scotch Corner, first proposed in 2014, was passed unanimously by district council planners last year.
The 22,000sq m development, at a cost of £50m, would include around 90 retail and food and drink units, along with space for 1,300 car parking spaces.
Concerns had been raised by local authorities including Darlington Town Council, which said such a development would cause “significant harm” to the area’s vitality and viability.
But, as full planning permission was granted yesterday, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said he agreed with conclusions that Darlington remains “in good health”, and would not be at material risk from competition.
Coun Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said this was “disappointing” as it was contrary to the views of local traders and the Tees Valley Authorities.
“We will continue to work hard with businesses and stakeholders to further develop and ensure Darlington remains a vibrant and sought after town centre and continues to prosper,” he said.
Simon Waterfield, partner of applicant Scotch Corner LLP, said he was very pleased with the decision and hopes now to proceed quickly, with construction to start next year. “This decision completely supports what we have always maintained - that it is unlikely that there will be any significant adverse impact on nearby town centres. Now the long wait for a decision has ended, we can now go forward in confidence with the retailers and restaurants that we expect to attract to the new village.”