A SIXTIES council headquarters could be protected as a listed building.

Many people might raise their eyebrows at the prospect of the grey, but imposing, facade of County Hall, the headquarters of Durham County Council, receiving such status.

But County Councillor John Shuttleworth said the building at Aykley Heads, was of “significant architectural importance” to the city and he has written to English Heritage asking for it to be listed.

Coun Shuttleworth, who represents Weardale, said he feared that council chiefs at the newly-enlarged unitary authority thought the building was “not fit for purpose”

and they were considering moving to new headquarters.

He said: “I would compare it with the Get Carter car park in Gateshead. Its architecture is unique for the period of time in which it was built.”

County Hall was built at a cost of £2.75m and was officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh, on October 14 1963.

The Northern Echo described it as a “contemporary building with a blend of dignity and grace” which demonstrated the competence of the North-East’s claim to be a “giant of enterprise”.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said assessing the application could involve a site visit, and a report would advise whether it was architecturally or historically significant.

This would go to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Secretary of State had the final say.

The spokeswoman said: “Listed building status is not a preservation order and it will not necessarily prevent the demolition of a building, but it has to be taken into account in the planning process if any major alterations are made.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “We can reassure Coun Shuttleworth that there are no plans to move the council out of county hall at the present time.”

Dr Douglas Pocock, honorary secretary of the City of Durham Trust conservation group, said county hall wouldn’t be top of his list for listed building status, but it was “worth consideration”.