A NEW bus depot has been officially opened on the former steelworks site in Consett.

The £3.5 million Go North-East development, which took two-and-a-half years, is based on Hownsgill Industrial Estate.

The high-tech operation replaces the company’s Stanley depot, which it operated from for nearly 100 years.

It was opened on Friday and now is home to 180 Go North East team members and 63 vehicles.

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “It’s great to see Go North-East demonstrating its confidence in our county and our growing economy by making such a significant investment here.

“Public transport is vital to our towns, villages and communities and it is important that we work with our partners to ensure it is reliable and accessible.

“The opening of this new depot is a sign of optimism for the future of services in our area.”

The building was designed by Go-Ahead Group’s property team with Gateshead-based architects, Shadbolt Group.

It includes a lean engineering facility to streamline processes and make vehicle maintenance more efficient, a full-recycling vehicle wash and spill-free refuelling system.

Other industry-leading features at the new depot include electric vehicle charging stations and vehicle lifts instead of pits on site for engineers, which creates a safer way of working on engines under vehicles.

Cllr Henig was joined at the opening by Go-Ahead Group chief executive David Brown and Go North East Managing Director, Martijn Gilbert.

Mr Brown said: “This new depot is further demonstration of our long-term commitment to the North East, where we are the third largest private employer. “Bus services are vital for providing our communities with affordable and reliable access to employment, education and leisure.

“With 60 per cent of all public transport journeys taking place on the bus, we are pleased to play our part in the economic growth in Consett and the North-East.”

Go North East has also redeveloped its Medomsley Road office for its operations team.

The £100,000 included new CCTV and alarm security systems, a new roof and updating of canteen facilities for bus drivers.