BUSINESS bosses are backing controversial development plans for the heart of Durham.
The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have both written to Durham County Council to pledge their support for the Banks Group’s plans for the Mount Oswald golf course site.
The firm says its scheme, which includes executive housing, student accommodation and a range of new community facilities, has been designed in line with the council’s vision for the city and would support about 220 jobs.
But campaigners, backed by city MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, oppose the plans. Objections include the loss of a greenfield site, the impact on roads and services such as schools, and the unsuitability of the housing proposed.
The NECC said it believed the Mount Oswald scheme would help “to attract and retain the highly-skilled and higher wealth individuals” the city needs, while the FSB said the investment and job creation’ involved “will help to ensure Durham can tackle the economic challenges of public sector cuts head on.”
Jonathan Walker, NECC’s head of member relations, says: “The economic downturn hit the North East construction sector particularly hard. We cannot risk losing ,kthe skills that we have developed over generations and neither can we underestimate the wider benefits that construction projects bring to the region. It is essential, therefore, that councillors and planning officials do all that they can to back developments such as Mount Oswald and bring them to construction as swiftly as possible.”
FSB North East regional chairman Ted Salmon added: “The long-term benefits of this investment are also clear, with the creation of 164 permanent jobs, attracting new families into the area and helping to generate an estimated £3.4million additional expenditure in the Durham City economy. ”