Public inquiry into land at new Durham County Council HQ set to restart

A public inquiry examining controversial plans for a new council HQ in Durham City is expected to resume on Tuesday, May 11.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 6:23 pm
Artists impression of Durham County Council's new HQ in Durham City
Artists impression of Durham County Council's new HQ in Durham City

Work has already started on the flagship new riverside office for Durham County Council but bosses still need to finalise permission to build a car park on a parcel of protected land at the Sands.

But following opposition to the scheme, the application to strip the area, which makes up less than six per cent of the overall Sands site and was formerly used as a coach park, of it’s ‘common land ‘ status is now being assessed by a government assessor.

Last month, the appointed inspector, Edward Cousins, spent three days listening to evidence related to the proposals, including:

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Plans to compensate for the loss of common land at the Sands with an alternative site, more than 10 times larger than the area currently allocated for a car park Claims failure to secure the release of the land could cost the county council more than £60,000, but that this would not jeopardise the overall HQ development An insistence by council bosses that the application to strip part of the ‘common land’ protected status from the Sands was made after permission had been secured for the £50 million riverside HQ to avoid accusations the process was ‘predetermined’

Hearings were adjourned on Thursday, April 29, to allow local elections to be held and so that parish and local authority councillors would be able to give evidence without breaching campaigning rules.

At least two further days of evidence are scheduled, including on Tuesday, May 11, with the possibility of a third being added.

A live stream of proceedings will be available to watch on YouTube.