CAMPAIGNERS are gathering outside County Hall, Durham, to protest against the building of a new civic building in the city centre.

Durham County Council is due to make a decision on the controversial proposals to build its new headquarters on The Sands car park. 

The meeting at County Hall is being held on Tuesday afternoon.

The Northern Echo:

Planners have recommended the controversial proposals to build the five-storey civic building, above, should be approved.

The council’s plans have met with widespread criticism from local residents, sparking more than 950 objections from members of the public, residents’ groups and other local groups.

The Northern Echo:

Jan Hutchinson, Greta Hodgson and Laura Mcvie at the protest

Market trader Poppy Solari, who will be speaking at the meeting said: “I’m here because of all the reasons other people are; traffic and the flood risk. But I’m also worried about the local economy.

"They say it’s going to help us but I think it’s going to hinder us. Where are shoppers going to park? We’re already up against retail parks and this is going to drive people away.”

Kathryn Banks, a resident of the Sands, said: "I think it's a massive risk to take because the consequences could be really serious.

"I think people will respect them if they change their minds but they won't if they pass it. 

"We just want to say to the council, don't take the risk because you're publically funded and you shouldn't be taking risks with air pollution and flooding."

Addressing the meeting, Elizabeth Scott, chairwoman of the City of Durham Parish Council, said: “It’s clear from the 1,005 letters of objection and from the public demonstrations that these proposals to move county hall to The Sands is unpopular, not just in Durham City but throughout the county.

The Northern Echo:

“There are only eight letter in support. Such a disparity should surely ring alarm bells.

“It’s not right for residents, it’s not right for business and it’s not right for the county council.”

Douglas Pocock, from the City of Durham Trust, said: “After four decades of examining every planning application in the city, this is the most incredulous application I have come across.”

Mark Robinson, from Kier Development, which submitted the application, said: “The proposal presents the county council with a fantastic opportunity to return to the civic heart of the city.