PLANS to create a £50m designer outlet village at Scotch Corner have been met with mixed reactions.
Draft proposals for a 250,000 sq ft complex featuring 90 stores from top luxury brands, including Armani, Gucci and Prada, were yesterday revealed by The Northern Echo.
The village, which could create up to 800 jobs, would feature a number of cafes and restaurants, and would seek to emulate the success of Bicester Village, Oxfordshire.
Following preliminary discussions with Richmondshire District Council a public consultation will now take place, with the application being submitted later this summer. If approved, the complex could open by 2016.
The announcement has attracted mixed reviews, with a number of comments being left on The Northern Echo’s website - some in favour, while others suggesting the complex would damage shops in nearby Darlington.
Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said the complex would pose more of a threat to cities like Newcastle rather than smaller town centres.
“We have got a more holistic town centre. There have been these designer shops knocking around for some time and they do not seem to have damaged the town,” he said.
“The only threat to our area would be to the shops in Grange Road and Northumberland Street but I suspect that is of such a different nature that it would be safe from it.”
His thoughts were echoed by Richmond county councillor Stuart Parsons, who welcomed the plans and said the complex had the potential to attract new visitors to Richmondshire from across the region.
“I suspect it could be very positive, but we will have to wait to see what is included in the exhibition. The devil is in the detail,"
He said the complex had the potential to become a top shopping designer shopping destination and if so, would not be at a detriment to nearby town centres.
“I am trying to think of any designer outlet shops in the area and I don’t think there are any. Most of those shops are not even in Hambleton and most are not in Darlington.”
However longstanding Darlington trader, Beryl Hankin, called on councils to invest in their existing town centres, rather than supporting new, out of town shopping venues.
She said: “Richmond is a traditional town centre – it is everything a shopping outlet is not.
“I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. How is it going to benefit them? They are going to benefit the big multi-national corporations, they are not benefitting their own local traders.”
Details of the proposal can be viewed at scotchcornerdesignervillage.com