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Restaurants cut in £27m Durham office scheme
PLANS to include restaurants in a £27m regeneration scheme have been scaled back amid public opposition.
New proposals to build offices and leisure facilities at Freeman’s Reach, the former ice rink site in Durham city centre, were first unveiled in March and went on public display in June.
Critics feared building restaurants would see the area used late at night, as it adjoins the Walkergate complex of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Now developers have cut the space proposed for restaurants, putting more offices in instead.
Their latest proposals will go on public display in The Studio, in the Gala Theatre, Durham, on Wednesday.
Neil McMillan, development director at Carillion Developments, said: “Some people had concerns over the level of restaurant space.
“We’ve understood and appreciate that. We’ve addressed it and reduced the restaurant space.”
The plans, dubbed Durham Riverside Renewal, include more than 8,000sq metres of high-quality, eco-friendly offices. It is hoped they will attract 2,500 jobs.
Part of the first phase will be occupied by National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which will move from Milburngate House.
There have been fears over parking and traffic congestion. No new parking facilities are planned.
However, Mr McMillan said city centre office workers did not expect individual parking spaces, Durham had an excellent park-and-ride bus service and NS&I was working on a ‘green travel’ scheme.
Mr McMillan said overall the feedback had been positive, with residents praising the quality of the development.
Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said: “On the face of it, it’s a much better proposal than anything we’ve had previously.
“They’ve thought about the public space quite well and it appears to be a good quality development. They’ve also thought about opening up the riverside.”
A riverside walk would be created as part of the scheme.
The MP added: “There are a number of features I think are quite attractive. They seem to be genuinely trying to get into dialogue. I want to see what the feedback is from Wednesday.”
Wednesday's exhibition runs from noon to 8pm. Comments can also be made online at durhamriversiderenewal.co.uk
Carillion hopes to submit a planning application in November and start work on site next summer.
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