COUNCILLORS have approved the redevelopment of Durham’s old fire brigade HQ despite concern about the level of affordable housing.
Durham County Council’s county planning committee today (Tuesday, January 7) followed officers’ recommendation to grant the outline scheme for the site in Finchale Road, Framwellgate Moor.
The County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service has moved to a new base on the city’s Belmont Industrial Estate and it plans to build a new fire station for the city and a standalone training centre. Councillors were told that the brigade hopes to use the proceeds from the sale of the land to a developer to help pay for the new facilities.
And they heard that the council’s normal requirement for 20 per cent of such a housing development to be affordable homes should be reduced to ten per cent.
Planning officer Peter Herbert said that the brigade had produced figures that showed that redevelopment would not be viable otherwise because of the cost of clearing contamination from the site including asbestos, fuel and chemicals.
He also told the committee that the money raised by the land sale would go towards the new fire station at Sniperley and the training facility and Bowburn.
Some councillors voiced concern about the reduction in the affordable housing quota.
Stanley member Carl Marshall said: “Whatever happens, someone is going to make a lot of money out of this site whether the land is contaminated or not.
“There is a significant shortfall of affordable housing and it is a site that is relatively attractive to developers because it is on the outskirts of Durham City.
“I am really disappointed that affordable housing has gone from 20 per cent affordable housing to ten per cent .”
Local councillor Amanda Hopgood suggested that to maximise the site’s profitability any developer be allowed to build the affordable homes on another site.