Creating a new legacy

March 5, 2020

The Arlington Real Estate/Richardson joint venture is working with North East-headquartered national building contractor Tolent and Durham County Council on the Milburngate development, which is transforming Durham City’s commercial and leisure landscape

The vision
Milburngate, in Durham City, is one of the biggest live developments happening in the region.

In a city steeped in historical significance, the site itself lies within the Durham World Heritage Site, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1986.

The six-acre site on the banks of the River Wear will be a brand new 450,000 sq ft mixed-use development offering 230,000 sq ft Grade-A office space, 153 luxury apartments, 53,000 sq ft of high-quality restaurants and bars, a boutique cinema and a 92-bed hotel.

Supported by a £120 million forward-funding commitment, the project is being delivered in joint venture by Durham-based property business Arlington Real Estate, which has already delivered major regeneration project DurhamGate, five miles south of Durham City, and UK and international real estate company Richardson.

Together, the joint venture has undertaken the first major part of the regeneration of Durham’s riverside with the development of Freemans Reach on the opposite bank of the Wear to Milburngate.

Thanks to the enviable location and exceptional quality of Milburngate, the team has already signed up a number of high-profile brands to the site, including a 92-bed Premier Inn hotel, Bar + Block, Miller & Carter and an Everyman cinema.

Advanced discussions with one occupier, which will bring significant jobs to the city centre, are currently underway and with a number of units under offer to a range of other high-profile operators, this vibrant new development provides retail, leisure and office occupiers with the perfect setting to be among like-minded businesses in what is set to be one of Durham’s finest destinations.

The build
Following an extensive two-year demolition and remediation programme, Gateshead-based Tolent was appointed as the main contractor to deliver the first phase of the development, which covers around 70 per cent of the entire site.

The £84.5 million contract was awarded in June 2019, one of the company’s highest ever contracts, after which Tolent was named the number one contractor in the region following a series of high-profile wins.*

Since works began on site, the team has endeavoured with more than ten months of detailed and skilled civil engineering works to prepare and ready the ground on site, using more than 19,500 tonnes of concrete.

The arrival of a 68-metre-tall crane in February, the first of three that will be added as a temporary fixture to the city centre skyline, marks a step-change in the construction activity that will follow in the next 18 months.

As the various elements within the development start to take shape, the on-boarding of around 500 skilled and varied construction workers will help to deliver the reality of the Milburngate vision.

The legacy
Over the next ten years, Durham County Council has committed to £3.4 billion of investment in the county, creating more higher-quality jobs through developments such as Milburngate.

As a major milestone in the renaissance of Durham’s riverside and the future economic and social prosperity of the city, the anticipated legacy for Milburngate is to attract talented people to live, work and visit the city, while creating and retaining important jobs.

A total of 1350 jobs have already been retained at Freemans Reach, following the relocation of the former HM Passport Office and the National Savings and Investments (NS&I) office blocks that once stood on the Milburngate site.

Freemans Reach opened on the opposite side of the river in 2016, swiftly followed by the redevelopment of The Gates shopping centre to create The Riverwalk, which opened in the summer of 2018.

The city is fast becoming a highly desirable destination, and by continuing to provide an environment for investment that supports growth, Durham County Council has ambitions to support the creation of 30,000 new jobs during the next 15 years.

*Source from Glenigan data, the trusted provider of UK construction project sales leads, market analysis, forecasting, and company intelligence


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