Plan to create 6,000 jobs in Durham gets green light

How Aykley Heads could look once redeveloped.
How Aykley Heads could look once redeveloped.

Ambitious plans which aim to attract more than 6,000 new private sector jobs to Durham City over the next 20 years have been given the go ahead.

Following endorsement by Durham County Council’s Cabinet today the masterplan for Aykley Heads – home to Atom Bank and Salvus House – will now progress, with experts saying it could provide a £400million economic boost.

The Aykley Heads redevelopment is supported by a number of regional organisations including the North East LEP and North East England Chamber as well as Durham University.

More than 1,300 people (excluding the council’s staff) are already employed across the site by 40 companies and bosses say there is currently very strong interest from a business looking to move into Northumbria House.

The redevelopment of Aykley Heads is planned across three phases – with the first phase likely to progress in the near future.

The redevelopment of Aykley Heads also involves the council vacating the site and today the council’s Cabinet members made a decision on where the organisation’s new HQ will be built.

Following a thorough procurement process the preferred bid is on the council’s site at The Sands car park, opposite Freeman’s Quay leisure centre.

The preferred bid was put forward by Kier Property Developments Limited, whose costings to build the new HQ came in significantly less than the cost envelope for the project and of the amount associated with staying in County Hall.

Terry Collins, chief executive of Durham County Council said: “We have been delighted with the response from the four bidders however we feel the preferred proposal offers the best overall value.

“Separately we have also agreed that the council will re provide The Sands parking spaces and that we will also facilitate additional parking nearby.

“There are a number of high quality developments currently underway along the city’s waterside and we want to make sure we complement those.”

The procurement process has delivered a scheme significantly less than the build cost envelope agreed previously by Cabinet in July 2016.

A new HQ will provide much smaller and fit for purpose civic facilities in a city centre location with greatly reduced running costs and which can support the organisation’s ambitious transformation programme.

Investment in, and the expansion of, its centres at Seaham, Spennymoor Crook and Meadowfield will also continue.

The next stage for the new HQ will be to submit a planning application early in the summer, this will include the usual consultation process.

Coun Simon Henig, leader of the council, said: “Throughout this process we remain committed to working with all the partners and stakeholders involved.

"We want to ensure Durham City’s waterfront developments complement each other and to support the delivery of an even more vibrant economy, while providing a unique business location at Aykley Heads attracting several thousand additional jobs.”