The delays to the opening of three major businesses on a stalled multi-million-pound leisure complex have been linked to fire safety regulations. 

Milburngate in Durham City was billed as a development that would feature 153 built-to-rent apartments, and office space, alongside several businesses including BrewDog, Premier Inn and Everyman Cinema. 

Despite being scheduled to open their doors at the end of 2022, all three big brands have still not been able to open, due to an 'impasse' after Gateshead-based construction company, Tolent, went into administration last year; leaving question marks over the future of the development. 

BrewDog CEO James Watt has raised concerns over the ongoing delays, hitting out last week at the "lack of vision or communication" about when it could open and accusing the council of a "staggering display of incompetence".

The Northern Echo: The empty BrewDog building at Milburngate Durham The empty BrewDog building at Milburngate Durham (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Large parts of the plans have already been built, including the BrewDog, Premier Inn and Everyman Cinema venues, but 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.

Durham County Council has claimed that part of the issue causing the delay is that developers haven't provided "remediation of several fire safety issues".

A council spokesperson said: “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: Everyman Cinema at the development Everyman Cinema at the development (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

“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.”

So far, BrewDog CEO James Watt is the only one of the three businesses involved to break his silence on the matter after taking to LinkedIn earlier this week.

Posting on the business social media platform, Mr Watt 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.

The Northern Echo: Premier Inn at MilburngatePremier Inn at Milburngate (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)
"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."

However, the developers have insisted they want to move forward with the Milburngate development and "break the impasse" with the council.

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

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.

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“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.”