TO the new leaders at Durham County Council, I suggest not over complicating the appraisals of what they have inherited.

Stepping back, where would you locate a council headquarters in the city of Durham: at Aykley Heads, with close proximity to public transport, both rail and bus, or on common land with no public transport close by?

Stop work immediately on the new county hall. It was designed for one third of the employees with hot desking. Post-Covid planning results in the building never being capable of housing the numbers intended.

Use a simple calculation: how many square metres per person was it designed for? Calculate the space now required per person for safe working. Covid is not going away.

The calculation will show the space required is closer to the size of the existing County Hall, unless people are to remain working from home, which for mental wellbeing reasons will be unsustainable.

Consider the costs of the demolition of the existing county hall against the costs of demolition of the building under construction on the Sands.

The existing county hall demolition will be extremely costly as it is built with reinforced concrete frames and asbestos removal will be required. As it stands, there are no structural problems and asbestos is not a danger.

The demolition costs of the new building at the Sands would, in comparison, be low, due to it being one third of the size and built with Meccano/Lego components with no asbestos removal required.

The savings can be spent bringing the existing county hall up to present day standards with monies left over being used to possibly rejuvenate and open the Durham Light Infantry museum.

Retaining the existing county hall would not prevent Aykley Heads becoming a business park, which is the main reason given for its removal.

A design competition for schools could be held to find a new use for the cleared Sands site. The foundations and low level structures could possibly be retained.

Schoolchildren are the county’s future leaders. Let their imagination loose. Clean air, wildlife protection and enhancement and greening the city should be priorities.

Long term, the new administration would be forever congratulated in helping to save this part of Durham, along with improving the city for future generations.

DG Findley, Durham City.

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