Aykley Heads Planning Application Submitted

The regeneration of Aykley Heads Estate in County Durham is a step closer with the Hybrid planning application having been submitted.

The site masterplan, delivered by international design practice Ryder Architecture, proposes to develop the 15.5ha site into a high quality business park, with almost 40,000sqm of office accommodation and ancillary uses.  To release the site’s full potential as a development location, Durham County Council (DCC) are vacating their current headquarters in the centre of the site.

The second phase of the masterplan involves the demolition of this building, constructed in the 1960s, whilst DCC will move into a smaller headquarters in the heart of Durham, significantly lower running costs and designed to support modern working practices.  The new DDC headquarters, which will support modern working practices and have lower running costs than its predecessor, is also being designed by Ryder.

The estate is a highly sensitive environment as part of the wider setting of the Durham peninsular UNESCO World Heritage Site.  DCC’s move means that County Durham’s extensive archives will need to be relocated to a new Durham History Centre, for which the former manor house at Mount Oswald has been recognised as a potential location.

Cathy Russell, associate at Ryder, said: “Placemaking is at the heart of the masterplan, creating a place where people not only go to work, but want to visit too.  This is not an out of town business park, but a working parkland for everyone to enjoy.  The development is set within an attractive parkland and woodland setting, connected via an improved network of green walking and cycling routes to Durham railway station, bus stops and the Park & Ride, to facilitate active and sustainable travel and reduce car use.”

The vision for the Aykley Heads masterplan is to maximise economic growth in County Durham.  As well as creating an estimated 4,000 new jobs within Phases 1 and 2 in a variety of private sectors such as finance and technology, the scheme will act as a catalyst to aid economic regeneration by retaining skilled youngsters and providing them with career opportunities in a high quality employment environment.  The site development is expected to generate up to £400m for the local economy over a period of 20 years.

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