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Developers select Freeman's Reach as the preferred location for its Durham City operation
Leeds, 1st June 2014 - The developers of Freeman’s Reach have sealed a deal to re-house Her Majesty’s Passport Office from Milburngate House to Phase 2 Freeman’s Reach, part of their Durham Riverside Renewal regeneration project, on the opposite bank of the River Wear.
Having selected Freeman’s Reach as the preferred location for its Durham City operation, the granting of planning permission means that everything is now in place to enable the developers to begin construction of the new building this month.
Securing HM Passport Office as the occupier for Phase 2 means that the entire development will now be completed and occupied by 2016.
Construction of Phase 2 will run alongside that of Phase 1 for National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which is scheduled to be completed in early 2015.
This development illustrates the significant progress that has been made since the former ice rink site was acquired by the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), as a strategic site for regeneration.
In 2012, the HCA and Durham County Council entered into a development agreement with a consortium led by Carillion Developments, Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital LLP who have invested £27 million into the project, which has rapidly breathed new life into the site and ensured a significant number of high value jobs will remain within Durham City.
In addition to attracting the 950 Passport Office jobs (812, full time equivalent), the scheme has already secured c. 400 NS&I staff for the city centre, and will improve visitor amenity, particularly for those arriving by coach.
Significantly, the relocation of both NS&I and the Passport Office to Freeman’s Reach will provide a unique opportunity to realise the regeneration potential of this important area of the city known as the ‘Northern Quarter’.
Ian Forster, Director of Operational Services at Her Majesty's Passport Office, said: “We are pleased to be part of this riverside transformation and are confident that Freeman's Reach will provide an excellent base to provide a high quality public service to our customers and a modern and flexible workspace for our staff.
“This confirms our commitment to our people and the local economy in Durham where we will continue to work with staff and suppliers to deliver a trusted and secure service which represents good value for our customers.”
Allan Cook, Managing Director of Arlington Real Estate, said: “The Freeman’s Reach development is already proving to be a catalyst for the positive transformation of Durham’s Riverside and represents a major step forward in reshaping this part of the city. I am confident that this is just the start of a chain reaction of activity throughout the Northern Quarter which will see this area transformed into a place more in keeping with the calibre of a city like Durham.”
Neil McMillan, Director of Carillion Developments, said: “Retaining these two high-profile organisations in the city centre was essential, employing around 1,400 people and with a significant number of visitors each year, they provide an essential contribution to the city centre economy. I am sure that their presence at Freeman’s Reach will significantly add to the vibrancy of this exciting new area of the city.”
Jeff Pearey, Head of JLL’s North East business who advised the developer, said: “This is a major coup for the city of Durham and the lettings to both NS&I and HMPO secures the long term future for this key site.”
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