July 11 2019 @ 8:00 by Steven Hugill
Construction on a landmark city redevelopment scheme is underway.
Contractor Tolent has started on the first phase of the Milburngate project in Durham City.
The work comes after an extensive two-year demolition and site remediation programme at the six-acre site.
The start of construction was marked by the breaking of ground by two local school children, Halle Robson, aged five, and eight-year-old Alexandra Chilton, who are both from St Margaret’s C of E Primary School in the city, alongside the developers, contractors and Durham County Council.
Phase one of Milburngate involves the construction of 70 per cent of the entire development, which will include a number of nationally-recognised leisure operators, including boutique cinema company Everyman, restaurant brands Bar + Block and Miller and Carter, and a 92-bed Premier Inn hotel.
Alongside its premium leisure facilities, Milburngate will also incorporate 5000 square metres of speculatively built Grade A offices, creating capacity for more than 400 new jobs, and 153 built-to-rent apartments.
As part of the construction, Tolent will also deliver a new frontage onto the riverside and attractive public realm spaces with impressive views of the historic city.
Milburngate is being delivered in joint venture by Durham-based property business Arlington Real Estate and the Richardson family, who together have already successfully delivered a number of strategically important regeneration projects across the region, including Freemans Reach in Durham City centre.
Allan Cook, managing director of Arlington Real Estate, said: “This is a major milestone in the regeneration of Durham’s riverside and future economic and social prosperity of the city.
“We are very proud to have broken ground at Milburngate and to be embarking on a build programme that will create a regionally significant location that will attract people to Durham City, while creating and retaining important jobs.”
Ben Holmes, director on behalf of the Richardson family, added: “Milburngate is a game-changer for Durham and will be an important asset for the city and the wider North East for generations to come.
“Durham City is a very unique location, with immense historical significance, but with a tremendous forward-thinking attitude and we are delighted to support the area with the development of Milburngate.”
Andy McLeod, Tolent chief executive, said the company, which was formed on Tyneside in 1983, was looking forward to playing its part in creating a legacy for Durham City.
He said: “We are delighted to be starting this fantastic project.
“A project of this size and significance comes with a responsibility to deliver the highest quality of construction outputs, but it also comes with a responsibility to support and work with the local community and ensure we leave a lasting legacy that everyone is proud of and one that hopefully inspires future generations.”
The development is supported by a £120 million forward-funding commitment from LaSalle Investment Management, which is the first phase.
Julian Agnew, chief investment officer for the UK at LaSalle, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Arlington Real Estate and the Richardson family.
“We believe it will make a considerable and positive long-term contribution to the local economy and community.
“This is an excellent example of where the capital from our pensions fund clients can be well deployed for a positive impact to kickstart regeneration schemes.”
Hailing the potential of the Milburngate development, Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said it was yet another boon for the area’s business and leisure community.
He added: “We are committed to ensuring Durham is a great place to live, work and visit, with a thriving economy, good job opportunities and plenty of places for residents and visitors to relax and enjoy themselves.
“Milburngate is one of a number of key developments across the city, which includes the recently-opened Riverwalk development, Durham University’s £1 billion investment plans and the planned re-development of the Aykley Heads site, which will significantly boost the city and wider county’s economy.
“It is important we do everything we can to attract new investors to the county.
“There is so much to celebrate in Durham right now, and we are seeing significant investment right across the county, including a £75 million development at Jade Enterprise Park, in east Durham, our recent £271 million expansion of NETPark, a £115 million development at Integra 61, at Bowburn, and our £153 million expansion of Aycliffe Business Park, home to the Hitachi Rail facility.”