Redesign of Durham County Council new HQ plans could cost £60,000 if car park turned down

Failure to secure permission to build on protected land could cost county bosses £60,000 – with the possibility of further costs piled on top.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 10:28 am
Artistic impression of the new Durham County Council headquarters.

Durham County Council (DCC) has been defending its plans to build a car park for staff and councillors on the Sands, in Durham City, as part of wider multi-million pound development of a new riverside HQ.

Giving evidence to an independent government inspector, local authority chiefs admitted being turned down could land them with a five figure redesign bill, but would not be drawn on the potential for further financial hits.

“It [£60,000] is a small proportion [of the overall development costs,” said Mike Allum, the county council’s spatial policy manager.

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“But it should also be noted that £60,000 is the cost of the redesign, the planning application that would be required to move the storage tank, etc.

“Then there would be the actual physical construction costs, which may be different, because of the new location – £60,000 is for the redesign and there would be other costs on top of that, but I’m not aware what the details of those would be.”

Allum was speaking today at the second day of the public inquiry into DCC’s application to strip a portion of the Sands site of its ‘common land’ status to make way for a planned 60-space car park.

Nicola Allen, a planning law specialist acting for the City of Durham Parish Council and the Durham City Freemen, questioned why the council would not have a more accurate assessment of potential extra costs, given the ‘risk’ its application to strip of land of protected status could be rejected.

She also queried the local authority’s ‘commitments to the green agenda’, given its insistence on building a car park for its new HQ.

She added: “[The council has] made significant investments in park and ride and it has given planning permission for large employers to locate close to this site, for example the Passport Office, with no requirement for parking.

“Why is it that this council says council staff have to be able to park close to the site and it will be inconvenient if they don’t?”

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