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Building work has begun to redevelop the former home of Durham Wasps ice hockey team into offices
HUNDREDS of construction jobs are being created by a multi-million pound project to transform the site of a former ice rink into new offices.
Building work has begun on Durham Riverside Renewal, a £27m scheme to redevelop the former home of Durham Wasps and retain 800 jobs in the city centre.
The ice rink building, which had stood idle since it was last used as a bowling alley in 2009, has been demolished.
The project will see the creation of new offices for National Savings and Investments (NS&I) which will move from its home on the opposite side of the river in Milburngate House, ensuring that high value jobs remain in Durham City centre.
This first phase of the development at Freeman’s Reach is planned for completion in 2015 and will become home to 395 NS&I staff.
The project will support about 300 construction jobs.
Carillion Developments, part of Carillion plc; local property business Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital LLP, have assembled an experienced team to deliver the project.
Carillion is now on site and is in the process of letting subcontractor agreements that will all play a part in the delivery of Freeman’s Reach as well as help boost the local economy. Already a number of County Durham-based contractors have been engaged on the project including MGL Demolition of Durham City, Oliver’s Tree Services from Whitton Gilbert, and Lyndon Scaffolding of Newton Aycliffe.
Developers said that as well as providing 8,000 square metres of office space, Freeman’s Reach will add to the city’s visitor experience, particularly for those arriving by coach, as the site offers the opportunity to provide a small riverside restaurant and visitor kiosk.
The nearby Bishop’s Mill, a medieval mill, has been demolished, to be replaced by an Archimedes Screw hydroelectric power system capable of generating about 75 per cent of the office's energy requirements, developers said.
There was some opposition to the scheme, including from the City of Durham Trust conservation group, which feared some of the new buildings could affect views of the city, and from anglers who said the Archimedes screw could harm fish in the River Wear.
Allan Cook from Arlington Real Estate, said: “Having worked on the project for a number of years we are very excited to now be moving into the delivery phase, marking a new chapter in history of Durham City and in particular the Riverside.
"Being local to Durham I am very proud to be involved in the renewal of this part of the City and am confident that the legacy of the project will be something that will be celebrated and enjoyed by future generations.
"We have worked closely with many stakeholders including Durham County Council, the Homes and Communities Agency, NS&I and the local community to create an attractive green development more in keeping with its architectural surroundings, which I am sure will enhance the economic and social value of the area in terms of attracting new businesses and visitors to the City.”
Arlington Real Estate and Carillion previously worked together on the DurhamGate regeneration project on the site of Black & Decker's former UK headquarters in Spennymoor.
Neil McMillan, director of Carillion Developments, said: “Freeman’s Reach will prove to be a catalyst for regeneration in Durham City, not only on this site, but for other future developments in the city.
“In addition, at Freeman’s Reach, we are setting a new benchmark with highly sustainable and architecturally sympathetic buildings of a quality Durham deserves.
“Sustainability, both in terms of the long-term inward investment and exemplar green credentials are of paramount importance to this project, which is why we will be delivering not only BREEAM*- rated Excellent Grade A offices, but also Britain’s first hydro-powered city centre development.”
*BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings
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