THE way forward for Durham County Council’s headquarters – or the place it will likely be located – has been a challenge of debate within the metropolis for years.
Now the matter has been determined, once more, by council leaders, although disagreement between Labour and the present coalition continues.
The council is at present run from County Corridor at Aykley Heads.
However all appear to agree the ageing constructing is not going to be the council’s HQ sooner or later, and it’s earmarked for demolition.
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Neither will the brand new £50m constructing which has not too long ago been accomplished at The Sands within the metropolis centre.
The earlier Labour administration had deliberate this to be the brand new HQ, and it was constructed for this objective.
However the brand new joint administration of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents reviewed that call because it got here to energy final 12 months.
The council by no means received to maneuver into the Sands constructing, and now it seems it by no means will.
As an alternative, it has been determined to promote the brand new constructing to Durham College, to develop its enterprise faculty.
So if the council is not going to occupy both of those two buildings, the place will it go?
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The administration now plans a three-pronged strategy to:
- Assemble one other new “modest-sized civic constructing” and convention centre for companies at Aykley Heads;
- Occupy different council-owned workplaces already being constructed at Aykley Heads;
- Refurbish and reuse the previous buyer entry level on Entrance Road, Stanley, a big, run-down Grade II listed constructing which the council has been unable to promote.
The joint administration says the proposals will get monetary savings, safeguard and create as much as 780 jobs, spark funding, earnings and regeneration, and fund levelling up initiatives with the earnings of the sale.
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Council chief Cllr Amanda Hopgood mentioned the proposals supplied “a totally costed, value-for-money different” after residents had been “fairly rightly appalled” on the Sands plan.
Cllr Richard Bell, deputy council chief and cupboard member for finance, mentioned on the final cupboard assembly: “The case is compelling. It is a whole lot on anyone’s cash and is additional proof of cupboard’s daring and bold imaginative and prescient for the way forward for our county.
“I’m satisfied the choice technique will end in lodging employees will probably be pleased with.
“The council will probably be considerably higher off than if we transfer into The Sands.”
He mentioned it could kick-start the Aykley Heads employment website, together with a redeveloped DLI museum, artwork gallery and exhibition centre.
Cllr Mark Wilkes, cupboard member for neighbourhoods and local weather change, mentioned the Sands constructing was “fully inappropriate” in its measurement and site.
He mentioned of the brand new scheme: “That is an exemplary plan. Residents made it very clear to us they did not need the Sands constructing.
“Put up-Covid, we do not want as huge a constructing. Put up-Covid, we’d like a constructing that is way more versatile.”
Not everybody agreed. Labour MP Kevan Jones wrote an open letter expressing considerations in regards to the monetary price of the brand new plans “within the pursuits of worth for cash for the taxpayers of County Durham”.
Durham’s Labour group chief Cllr Carl Marshall mentioned the plans would “rip up Labour’s ambitions” and branded them “an obscene waste of time, cash, effort and… a mistake that will probably be felt for generations”.
He mentioned: “They’ve an HQ that’s already constructed. It’s there. Everybody can see it. The considered constructing a 3rd and even fourth HQ is completely farcical.”
A planning software to vary the Sands constructing’s use is anticipated to be determined in July.
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