Public inquiry into plans for new Durham County Council HQ could last until July

Backers and opponents of controversial plans to strip a former coach park of its protected status face a lengthy wait for a decision.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 12:48 pm
A government inspector has now spent five days listening to evidence from both sides.

A government inspector has now spent five days listening to evidence from both sides, following Durham County Council’s application to remove the ‘common land’ status from part of the Sands, in Durham City.

The site is earmarked to make way for a car park serving the local authority’s new £50 million riverside HQ.

The public inquiry had originally expected to wrap up yesterday (Wednesday, May 12), but now looks set to last a further two days, which might not be scheduled until July.

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It is hoped proceedings will be able to conclude on May 25 and 26, but issues related to streaming the sessions, which are being held remotely, over YouTube to allow the public to observe, could mean it has to be pushed back.

If so, it could mean the final two days of the inquiry will be held over July 1 and 7.

Stephen Whale, a planning law specialist acting for DCC, however seemed confident it would be possible to finish the process sooner, rather than later.

He said: “We managed to put men on the moon – I don’t simply accept the proposition that in two weeks we won’t be able to enter into whatever necessary agreement there has to be [to allow live streaming to take place].

“I’m not prepared to roll over and just accept that in two weeks, the paperwork can’t be drawn up.”

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