A PARISH councillor is set to ask a local authority about whether it will revisit its choice of location for its new headquarters at a meeting this week.

Durham County Council’s controversial plans to build a new, smaller civic building in Durham city, were approved by councillors last week.

The application was made by Kier Developments, who have been given a contract to build the HQ. 

More than 1,000 residents have objected to the proposals and dozens of people against the scheme packed County Hall last week to listen to arguments made for and against the development at The Sands car park, which would replace ageing building at Aykley Heads.

Councillor Roger Cornwell, who is a member of the City of Durham Parish Council, says he intends to attend the council’s cabinet meeting tomorrow to ask about information in the developer’s flood risk assessment.

He said: “While it would be technically feasible to build on The Sands, it is clear that when the site floods the new HQ would have to be evacuated and would need to stand empty until the flood subsides and the building is restored to a usable state.

“In these circumstances, will the cabinet revisit the choice of this site and select another which would be safer, not in a flood risk zone, and would still allow the proposed development on its Aykley Heads estate?”

The Environment Agency did not object to the proposals to build in the chosen location, though it did say a “robust” emergency evacuation plan should be in place and strongly recommended that emergency response teams should not be located in the new building because they may not be fully effective in times of flood.

The agency said: “We have considered the findings of the flood risk assessment in relation to the likely duration, depths, velocities and flood hazard rating against the design flood for the proposal.

“We agree that this indicates there will be a danger to all people.”

Durham County Council says it has plans in place to mitigate the flood risk.

A spokesperson for the authority said new developments by the riverside, which were approved by the Environment Agency, also have measures in place to mitigate flooding.

Meanwhile, more than 2,500 people have so far signed a petition calling on the Secretary of State to “call in the decision”, which has been requested by Durham’s parish council.

The petition, started by market trader Poppy Solari, says: "The proposal is contentious and has prompted a record number of objections.

"Concerns include road access, congestion, parking, air pollution, and safety; Durham’s World Heritage Site (which would suffer a ‘large’ and ‘adverse’ impact according to the World Heritage Site co-ordinator); effects on tourism and businesses; environmental issues; building on a floodplain; and accessibility of the site, especially for the disabled. 

"We the undersigned do not have faith that Durham County Council’s approval of the planning application was objective, open, and transparent."

The move is aimed at freeing up Aykley Heads so it can be used as a business park, which the council hopes will create up to 6,000 jobs, while the new HQ building would be smaller, more efficient and enable modern ways of working.