CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new local authority HQ in the heart of Durham City are due to be put to the test this week.

Durham County Council is building a new riverside office at the Sands to replace its current ageing base at Aykley Heads.

Part of this included an application for the former coach park to be re-registered as common land to make way for a 60-space car park for councillors and staff.

The Government’s planning inspectorate was initially happy to approve the county council’s request to strip the land of its status.

But following a campaign by opponents, led by the City of Durham Parish Council and the Durham City Freemen, the decision is to be re-examined at a public planning inquiry.

Starting tomorrow via videolink, proceedings are expected to last five days, although a break for scheduled local elections means the probe is not expected to finish until Wednesday, May 12.