PLANS have been unveiled for a £27million scheme to breathe new life into the site of Durham’s derelict former ice rink.
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Durham County Council and a development consortium have agreed to develop the Freeman’s Reach scheme on the east bank of the Wear.
The rink was originally bought by One NorthEast and has passed into the HCA’s hands as part of moves to wind up the regional development agency at the end of this month.
The development partners, who are led by Carillion Developments, Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital LLP, will consult the local community before submitting a detailed planning application in the autumn.
Neil Graham, head of the HCA’s North East economic assets team, said: “It is great news a major developer such as Carillion wishes to invest £27million in the centre of Durham, to transform this eyesore and provide much needed office space on this derelict site.
“This is the first of the former One NorthEast assets we have been able to deliver in partnership with the local authority to not only safeguard 1,000 jobs but also secure significant investment in our region.”
The scheme is due to be completed by August 2015 and will provide environmentally-friendly office space for more than 1,000 workers, with food and drink outlets to complement those in the Walkergate development next door.
Carillion Developments director Neil McMillan said: “We understand the importance of this site to Durham City and we are honoured to be part of its regeneration.
“This ambitious scheme shows what can be delivered through partnership working.”
Coun Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: “The regeneration of this area has been a long-held ambition of the county council.
“This development will transform a high-profile prime central site so that it can once more play a vibrant role in city life.
“I welcome this as another boost for our beautiful city.”
The scheme has already secured its first occupants. National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which currently occupies other offices in Durham, will move to the first phase.
Helen Hawkley, head of commercial and property strategy at NS&I, said: “We are very excited to have been able to secure such a key riverside site for our new accommodation, affording us the opportunity to provide staff with modern facilities while retaining a central and accessible location.”