The regeneration of Durham City’s riverside has been praised by the chairman of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Robert Napier.
During a visit to Freeman’s Reach, Napier was shown the progress of the development as well as plans to for dramatic improvements to the area.
Last year the HCA entered into a development agreement with Durham County Council and a development consortium led by Carillion Developments, Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital LLP to invest £27m into the scheme, which will breathe new life into the site.
Napier was shown the first stages of development of the new offices being constructed for National Savings & Investment, which will relocate to Freeman’s Reach from Milburngate House on the opposite bank of the Wear, ensuring 395 jobs remain in the city centre.
In addition, he saw the future home of a hydro-turbine that will enable Freeman’s Reach to become the first hydro-powered city centre development in the UK.
The electricity generating hydro-turbine uses an Archimedean screw to harness the power of the river, generating more than 75% of the power required for Freeman’s Reach. When the building is not in use, electricity generated by the turbine will be fed into the National Grid.
Napier said: “It’s fantastic to see how our investment has attracted such high quality partners as Carillion Developments and Arlington Real Estate, which are creating 300 construction jobs and safeguarding many other jobs for the future.”
“I was very impressed with the high quality of the site management and the team running the project. It was one of the best sites I’ve visited for some time.”
Director of Carillion Developments, Neil McMillan, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Napier to Freeman’s Reach.
“The Homes and Communities Agency has been very supportive of our vision to regenerate the riverside.”