PARISH councillors are seeking a judicial review into the decision to build a new £50m civic centre in a city centre.

Durham County Council's plans to build its new headquarters on The Sands car park, in Durham city, which have attracted widespread opposition, were approved last month.

The City of Durham Parish Council, which objected to the plans, has now unanimously agreed to seek a judicial review of the process and says it would like to see the county council "go back to the drawing board".

It follows a decision by the Secretary of State James Brokenshire not to “call in” the application for it to be decided by an independent planning inspector.

The Northern Echo:

A protest against building a new civic centre at The Sands car park was held in Durham in March

Councillor Elizabeth Scott, leader of the parish councillor, said: “Throughout all of this, what we have seen from this county council is well-established and saved local plan policies being disregarded and an avoidance of any accountability whatsoever to the welfare of the residents of Durham City and the fabric of our city.

“For many of us who have fought these plans, there seems to have been a sense of pre-determination from the outset, with the county council operating a ‘one stop shop’ in its determination of these plans.

“Last week we vowed to continue our fight and fight on we shall. As such, the parish council has now resolved to seek a judicial review of the scheme, with the aim that the county council goes back to the drawing board on its plans for a new headquarters.”

More than 1,000 objections were sent to the county council about the proposals, while almost 5,000 people signed a petition asking for the decision to be called in.

Objectors say the plans will have a negative impact on things like traffic flows, parking, air pollution and views of Durham Cathedral and castle.

The Northern Echo:

The Sands car park - the location chosen by Durham County Council for its new HQ

The application, which was made by Kier Property Developments, was approved by members of a Durham County Council meeting last month by a small margin of eight votes to six.

The county council wants to move away from its current base at Aykley Heads, in Durham, to make way for a business park.

The Sands car park was chosen as the location for the new civic centre in January 2017, with the county council saying it will boost city centre footfall.

The five-storey building, which is about a third smaller than the existing County Hall, will provide a work place for about 1,000 council officers, and will also have a council chamber, civic square and the plans also include a multi-storey car park.

Cllr Scott added: “People far and wide have expressed their opposition to these plans and we want them to know that the City of Durham Parish Council will continue to be a voice for this city.”

Helen Lynch, Durham County Council’s head of legal and democratic services, said: “We await details of the parish council’s grounds for seeking a judicial review and are unable to comment further.”