COUNCILLORS have backed revised development plans which will allow hundreds of North-East jobs to be saved.

In December, a deal was announced which will see about 950 HM Passport Office workers based in Durham city centre move from Milburngate House across the River Wear to a new £27m development on the former Durham ice rink site.

Planning permission for the Durham Riverside Renewal Project was granted last March.

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However, to accommodate the Passport Office in phase two of the project, the plans had to be altered.

Today (Tuesday, February 4), Durham County Council’s county planning committee unanimously approved those changes.

It means a proposed restaurant will instead be a customer service centre and there will be an extra 1,205sq m of office space.

That will be gained by filling voids and a “modest increase in footprint and storey massing”, although the building’s height and stepping remains unchanged.

Ian Beaumont, the project manager, said building on phase two would begin this summer and the development would be ready in three years.

Building is already well under way on phase one, a four-storey block which will be occupied by about 400 National Savings and Investments workers currently also based in Milburngate House.

Mr Beaumont said: “We are very proud of what we have already achieved to help shape the future of Durham City.

“The development at Freeman’s Reach is already proving to be a catalyst for the positive transformation of Durham’s riverside and the city’s economic and social landscape.”