durham site
Rebecca Wayman

Durham's "once in a generation" Aykley Heads site to create 6,000 jobs

More than 6,000 private sector jobs delivering a £400m boost could be underway for County Durham’s economy next week (January 17).

Coined a “once in a generation” opportunity to help transform the county’s economic prospects, Durham County Council’s cabinet members are to consider a detailed approach of the Aykley Heads site when they meet next Wednesday.

Aykley Heads is establishing itself as a premier private sector location, and the decision by Atom Bank to set up its global HQ there was quickly followed by interest in the council’s business startup and expansion incubator, Salvus House.

The facility was opened in September 2017, providing an employment base for more than 120 people - with a target of 200 over the next 11 months. It’s anticipated it will be at capacity in the near future.

Cllr Simon Henig, Durham County Council’s leader, said: “Paving the way for the development of Aykley Heads as a strategic employment site represents an opportunity to attract thousands of jobs for Durham and put hundreds of millions of pounds into the county’s economy.

“Providing a high quality development within the beautiful natural landscape, with views of the World Heritage Site, and adjacent to the mainline train station with access to London in under three hours is a fantastic opportunity not just for the county, but the wider region.”

Aykley Heads is a few minutes’ walk from a mainline rail station.

If the plan is agreed, the council would agree to relocate to smaller, more affordable city centric accommodation.

A relocation of the council’s HQ would also mean that the development of four refurbished strategic sites around the county will continue at Seaham, Meadowfield, Green Lane in Spennymoor and Crook.

North East Local Enterprise Partnership chair, Andrew Hodgson, commented: “The North East Strategic Economic Plan sets out an ambition to generate 100,000 more and better jobs for the North East economy by 2024.

“About 50,000 of these jobs have already been created - so another 6,000 jobs would count for more than 10 per cent of the remaining total we have to go.

“Experience tell us that from the potential 6,000 new jobs created on Aykley Heads there would likely be a further 6,000 jobs generated across the region to support them. It’s a very important opportunity for the region.”

More than £3bn is currently being invested across the county, potentially bringing thousands of new jobs.

Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for transformation, added: “These plans would enable us to transform how we operate, with a focus on workforce development in a smaller, modern and fit-for-purpose environment that can support a more dynamic and flexible approach and where the operating costs can be significantly reduced.”

The proposals for a new business district in the city have reached this point following work over a three-year period to develop and test plans for a strategic employment site and new HQ.

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