A little while ago, this magazine reported on a proposal for a £150 million redevelopment project on Durham’s riverside. Developer Carillion wished to demolish Milburngate House, empty since the Passport Office vacated it earlier this year, and build a huge retail, leisure and housing complex in its place.
Carillion received permission to knock down Milburngate House, a Brutalist 1960s office block, last year and demolition work has already begun.
Durham County Council has now discussed the proposals for its replacement, and its planning committee has given Carillion the go ahead. The new development will contain shops, restaurants, cafes, a boutique cinema, offices and 400 homes.
— Insider (@insiderneast) May 4, 2016
It is estimated that the development could create 1000 jobs. Cllr Paul Taylor commented,
“I welcome this application with open arms. This is an exciting venture that will attract more people to Durham. I have nothing negative to say about it.”
Many other councillors have welcomed the development, but not all councillors and local people seem convinced of its benefits. Concerns have been raised about how affordable the homes will be, with many locals feeling they will be priced out by wealthy professionals and students.
Other objections focus on the size of the complex and the impact it will have on views of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes Durham Castle and Cathedral.
Cllr David Freeman said, “The height of the buildings is excessive, particularly in the north west of the site where the building would be higher than the highest block at present. This will have a huge impact on the views of the public walking into the city from the railway station.”
I don’t think Milburngate House enhanced this view, do you! pic.twitter.com/lN90AcBiLc
— stephen peel (@stephenpeel1) January 9, 2016
Environmental objections have been raised regarding the cutting down of trees along Framwellgate Peth and the development’s effect on local birdlife. Species such as dippers, wagtails and sand martins can be found near the site.
Concerns have also been expressed by members of the Sidegate Residents’ Association about the dust and noise the construction work might create. While most planning committee members voted in favour of the development, they did stipulate that building work should only take place between 7.30 am and 6 pm on weekdays and between 8 am and 1 pm on Saturdays.
Neil McMillan, of the company Arlington Real Estate, which will work alongside Carillion, said,
“The proposed development will enhance the vitality and viability of the city, providing those who live, work and visit with more choice, and continue to elevate Durham City’s position alongside peer cities around the county and across Europe.”