Progress on Durham City's Milburngate site has stalled after the council and developers pleaded with each other to move forward with plans for the multi-million-pound site. 

This comes after the CEO of BrewDog, which was meant to open a new pub at the site in 2022,  again hit out at the "lack of vision or communication" about when it could open.

The major development, a joint venture of Arlington Real Estate and Richardson, was scheduled to feature 153 built-to-rent apartments, and office space, alongside several businesses including BrewDog, Premier Inn and Everyman Cinema. 

The Northern Echo: The Milburngate development in Durham CityThe Milburngate development in Durham City (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

But the progress of the Milburngate site has reached an 'impasse' after Gateshead-based construction company, Tolent, went into administration last year - leaving question marks over the future of the development. 

Despite large parts of the plans already built, including the BrewDog, Premier Inn and Everyman Cinema venues, there is no opening date in sight for any of them, due to complications with regulations, while Durham County Council and developers have urged each other to reach a conclusion.

Each of the three businesses has sat empty since they were completed - which has raised anger from BrewDog, CEO James Watt, who took aim at the situation online on last week. 

Posting to LinkedIn, Mr Watt highlighted that the BrewDog Durham venue has been ready since 2022 and that the company has invested over £1m into the site.

The Northern Echo: The Milburngate development through railingsThe Milburngate development through railings (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

He said: "We created almost 30 brand new jobs, and we hired a full team for the beautiful new venue. We even had food and drink on the tables in preparation for the opening.
"We only did this, as the council had told us we were going to be able to open.
"We still have no idea when we can open the doors.
"At a time when the UK needs jobs, needs investment, and needs economic rejuvenation more than ever, this staggering display of incompetence here by the council is almost beyond comprehension."

The Northern Echo: Brewdog in MilburngateBrewdog in Milburngate (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

In the post, Mr Watt goes on to allege that his emails to the council have not been answered over the last few weeks, and has claimed there is "no end in sight" for when BrewDog will open.

This isn't the first time Mr Watt has taken to social media to voice his displeasure at the lack of progress.

Despite Mr Watt's claims, the developers and council have insisted that they both want to move forward with the Milburngate development, with the developers saying they want to "break the impasse" with the council.

While negotiations are ongoing for the site, the developers have said it will be "kept secure and maintained," as the future of the stalled site remains unclear.

The Northern Echo: Everyman Cinema is another business that can't open at MilburngateEveryman Cinema is another business that can't open at Milburngate (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

A spokesperson for the developers said: “Following the lead contractor, Tolent Construction Limited, entering into insolvency last year and in accordance with our contractual obligations we have been engaging extensively with the council in an attempt to resolve the outstanding issues and complete the development.

“Unfortunately, those negotiations remain ongoing with no agreement yet reached.

"Practical completion of the development and the grant of the head lease to allow the occupational tenants to commence trading can only take place once such agreement has been concluded with the Council.

"We will continue to try and work constructively with the council to break the impasse and can only hope that the council will do likewise. 

"We do not believe that there are any safety issues that cannot be resolved once the council allows us to proceed with the completion of the building in the usual way.”

Despite the developers' claims, Durham County Council has noted that they are not in control of the development and share the "disappointment" at the lack of progress in Durham City.

The Northern Echo: Another business, Premier Inn, can't open due to the uncertainty of MilburngateAnother business, Premier Inn, can't open due to the uncertainty of Milburngate (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

A spokesperson for Durham County Council said: “We are aware of the concerns raised on social media by the CEO of Brewdog.

“While we share his disappointment at the progress with the site, Milburngate is not our development, so it is wrong to imply that it is for the council to determine when it will open."

The council has highlighted "the remediation of several fire safety issues" as one reason why the development can't progress, which the local authority says is the developer's responsibility.

The council spokesperson added: “From day one, our focus has been on ensuring the developer delivers a safe building, while also ensuring that we act in the public interest.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Carl Marshall, who leads the Labour groupCllr Carl Marshall, who leads the Labour group

“We have an established track record of delivering major regeneration schemes and of working in collaboration with the private sector and have worked tirelessly to try and support the developer in delivering the Milburngate scheme.

“We meet regularly with representatives for Brewdog, but will also reach out to Mr Watt directly to discuss his concerns.”

The Northern Echo: Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Amanda HopgoodLeader of Durham County Council, Cllr Amanda Hopgood (Image: Contributor)

Following the 'impasse' created by the developers of Milburngate and Durham County Council, there has also been a war of words between political groups at the local authority. 

Cllr Carl Marshall, who leads the Labour group, has expressed his disappointment at the lack of progress and has called on the coalition that leads the county council to "deliver for the future of Durham City and the wider region".

He said: "This site was supposed to bring lots of jobs, some much-needed accommodation and office space to the city - but it hasn't been botched at every stage. 

"It's unacceptable that a scheme of this scale can be left by the wayside like it has. 

"The coalition needs to show leadership and get everyone round the table to get Milburngate sorted, it's vital that this happens."

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But the leader of the council, Cllr Amanda Hopgood has hit back at Cllr Marshall - saying that the coalition "won't write a blank taxpayers’ cheque with an unlimited liability"

Speaking on behalf of the Joint Administration of Durham County Council, she said: “The site is not Durham County Council’s. The project is not finished and neither the developer nor the funder has yet to provide a comprehensive and detailed programme showing how the scheme can get to the stage at which the council can accept practical completion and take on the lease.

“Cllr Marshall may be prepared to write a blank taxpayers’ cheque with an unlimited liability for the county council, but this administration will not do that. As has been clear all along, responsibility for completion of this development rests with the developer and not the council.”