PROTESTORS angry about work starting on the construction of Durham County Council's new civic building are set to meet in the area today.

The Sands car park and adjoining coach park, in Durham, were fenced off at the start of the week to allow work to take place ahead of construction of Durham County Council's new civic building.

Objectors to the scheme have been trying to halt the controversial scheme, which will see a £50m HQ built on the banks of the River Wear. 

The car park closed on Sunday morning to allow workers to start on Monday.

A number of trees have been felled while fences have been erected around the site, including Durham's former coach park, which has raised some concerns as it is still registered as common land.

Among those opposed to the scheme is the City of Durham Parish Council.

Chairwoman Elizabeth Scott said: "We have very big concerns about the fencing off part of the common land.

"We have raised those concerns directly with Durham County Council."



Protestors are organising an event at The Sands today, between 1pm and 2.30pm.

Durham resident Janet George, from St Nicholas' Community Forum, who is helping to organise the event, said: "Please come along and join us on the coach park.

"Any person has the right to open access to common for open air recreation.

"Come and stroll - and picnic - if you like."

Organisers are also encouraging people to write messages to the council and are urging any one who attends to remain civil.

Lorraine O’Donnell, Durham County Council’s director of transformation and partnerships, said: “We have been made aware of the planned event.

“Fencing has been put up at the site in the interests of health and safety while we carry out enabling works ahead of the construction of our new headquarters.

“We are currently following a process to deregister the common land which has been used as a coach

The coach park is currently registered as common land, though the council is currently in the process of seeking to de-register the land. 

It wants to replace it with a meadow, located in Aykley Heads. 

A number of objections have been made to that application, including one by the City of Durham Parish Council, which is also opposed to the erection of the new headquarters in the city centre.