Work presses on for new Durham passport office complex

The latest stage of a city centre project has been completed, leading a workforce to start the next journey in their service's history.

Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 2:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 2:01 pm
Neil McMillan, development director, Carillion and Janine Bonnick, North East area operations manager for HM Passport Office in front of the HM Passport Office in Durham.

Construction of phase two of Freemans Reach has been completed, paving the way for the development to become the new home of Her Majesty’s Passport Office in Durham.

Members of the team joined Carillion Arlington Richardsons Development Partnership, the consortium behind the regeneration of Durham’s Riverside, to celebrate the handover.

Following an internal fit out programme, the service’s 1,100-strong workforce, currently based on the opposite side of the River Wear in Milburngate House, will transfer across to the energy-efficient building in the coming months.

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It is the first UK city centre development to incorporate a fully-operational hydro-power generator, which uses energy from the River Wear using an Archimedean screw to drive a generator.

The development, on the site of the former ice skating rink, will offer improved visitor amenities, including those arriving on coaches, cafes and restaurants, as well as a tree-lined riverside walk.

HM Passport Office’s relocation follows National Savings and Investments’ move from Milburngate House to phase one in May last year.

A planning application is due to be submitted to transform the Milburngate House site into a mix of homes, offices, bars, restaurants and a boutique cinema.

Neil McMillan, development director with Carillion, said: “We are very proud to hand over the building, on time, to HM Passport Office and help maintain this essential public service’s long association with Durham City.”

Janine Bonnick, North East area operations manager for HM Passport Office, said: “Freemans Reach is a great asset, which will provide our team with a great working environment and open space, conducive to collaboration.

“The collaboration between HM Passport Office and the developers has been very successful and played a significant part in the building being completed on time.”