The chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Andy Rose, has visited Freeman’s Reach to review the progress of the regeneration of Durham City’s riverside.
During a tour of the development, Rose helped lay the foundations for the new Durham base of Her Majesty’s Passport Office and witnessed the considerable progress that has been made on the site of the former ice rink since it was acquired by the HCA as a strategic site for regeneration.
In 2012, the HCA entered into a development agreement with Durham County Council and a consortium led by Carillion Developments and Arlington Real Estate, to invest £27m into the riverside scheme.
Phase 1 of the development involves the construction of a new office for National Savings & Investments, which will accommodate around 400 jobs in Durham City.
The building is on course to be completed in early 2015.
Construction of Phase 2, the new Passport office, is taking place simultaneously and will secure 950 jobs in the city.
Completion is scheduled for 2016.
During his visit, Rose was also shown the recently-installed Archimedean screw, which will power a hydro-turbine providing around 75% of the total power requirement at Freeman’s Reach.
Rose said: “Freeman’s Reach is a great example of partnership working between the HCA and private sector developers such as Carillion and Arlington, with vital support from Durham County Council.
“We work with local partners to meet their priorities and Freeman’s Reach is on course to provide significant local employment opportunities as well as improving the quality of the riverside.”
Neil McMillan, development director at Carillion Developments, said: “Working closely with our stakeholders, including the HCA, we’re really pleased to be able to deliver this important regeneration project.
“Mr Rose was impressed with the vision for Durham Riverside and the critical role that the Council and the HCA have played to deliver and enable significant employment opportunities in a high quality development.”
Allan Cook, director of Arlington Real Estate, said: “Mr Rose saw first-hand how we are delivering on our commitment to providing an attractive and sustainable long-term future for Durham’s Riverside.
“He was particularly impressed with our use of renewable energy technology to harness the power of the river to minimise the carbon footprint of the development.”
In addition to office space, Freeman’s Reach will feature a riverside restaurant and a new tree-lined walk, opening up the riverside for visitors .