CONSTRUCTION work on a multi-million pound project to reshape Durham city centre is underway.

The start of the Milburngate development was marked by the breaking of ground by local school children, Halle Robson, age five, and Alexandra Chilton, age eight, from St Margaret’s C of E Primary School, alongside the developers, contractors and Durham County Council.

Phase one involves the construction of 70 per cent of the entire scheme, which will include a number of nationally recognised leisure operators including boutique cinema, leading restaurant brands and a 92-bed hotel.

There will also be office space, creating capacity for more than 400 new jobs, and 153 built-to-rent apartments.

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “We are committed to ensuring Durham is a great place to live, work and visit, with a thriving economy, good job opportunities and plenty of places for residents and visitors to relax and enjoy themselves.

“Milburngate is one of a number of key developments across the city, which includes the recently opened Riverwalk development, Durham University’s £1bn investment plans and the planned re-development of the Aykley Heads site, which will significantly boost the city and wider county’s economy.”

As part of the construction, Tolent will also deliver a new frontage onto the riverside and attractive public realm spaces offering views of the historic city.

Milburngate is being created with Durham-based property business Arlington Real Estate and the Richardson family.

Allan Cook, managing director of Arlington Real Estate, said: “This is a major milestone in the regeneration of Durham’s riverside and future economic and social prosperity of the city.

“We are very proud to have broken ground at Milburngate and embark on a build programme that will create a regionally significant location that will attract people to Durham City, while creating and retaining important jobs.”