APPROVAL has been given for a huge data storage facility which could create dozens of jobs.
Construction of the Lloyds TSB data centre on the outskirts of Darlington could also involve between 600 and 1,000 workers.
Yesterday, members of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee heard that if the data centre is constructed at the site at Whessoe Grange Farm it could establish the town as a leading area in the field of data storage and create a number of secondary employment opportunities.
The site would consist of four huge buildings containing banks of computers on which Lloyds customer details will be stored.
Around 75 people would be employed at the site.
Lloyds has said it is looking at a number of possible sites across the country for the facility, which could cost hundreds of millions of pounds to build.
No decision has been made about where to site it.
However, Darlington is one of the few areas in the UK which has such a large site – 111.5 hectares – as well as the necessary labour force and infrastructure.
Coun David Lyonette said the site had been earmarked for major development for several years.
In the past, it had been mooted as a possible location for Nissan and Mercedes factories.
He said: “This has been in the North-East structure plan for major development for as long as I can remember.
“It was jealous attempts of other areas in the North East to take this out (of the structure plan).
“I can’t think of a better development to fit in with local residents.
“Traffic movements will be minimal.
“It’s an ideal site to fill that area and will be an absolute benefit.”
One resident spoke to oppose the development because of the amount of traffic it could create.
The committee also received eight letters of objection and two letters of support.
One of the letters, from a professional ecologist, supported the amount of ecological planning which was in the proposal.
There would be 50 hectares of tree planting and also several ponds which would create wildlife habitats.
The data centre would look to generate 10 per cent of its power on site or with renewable fuels and it would be built to the most environmentally friendly specifications.