The Northern Echo:
Steven Hugill, Business Editor
REGENERATION bosses behind city development plans say they can be a blueprint for raising the game in the region.
The Arlington Real Estate and Carillion partnership is overseeing the Milburngate project, in Durham City.
It is also preparing plans to revitalise the former Brett Oils site in Gateshead into high-end living space.
Bosses told The Northern Echo the Durham riverside scheme, which features apartments, restaurants and bars, an Everyman Cinema and offices, will be a catalyst for new jobs and a stronger regional economy.
They also hope to submit a planning application for Brett Oils’ former base later this year, adding work on another development – DurhamGate, near Spennymoor, County Durham – is progressing well, with housebuilding set to be matched by a drive to strengthen its retail offering.
Neil McMillan, managing director of Arlington Real Estate, told the Echo the focus was purely about making the North-East a better place to live and work.
The consortium is re-developing the Milburngate House site, which was the former home of the Passport Office and National Savings and Investments, and has already re-invigorated nearby Freemans Reach to create new space for those two organisations, in a move officials say has retained more than 1,000 jobs in the city.
Referring to Milburngate, which the developers say will lead to the creation of more than 1,000 full-time jobs and support 650 construction jobs, Mr McMillan said: “We could have quite easily just done the norm but we have set out to do a lot better; it is about pushing the North-East forward.
“It’s fantastic to be bringing Everyman to the North-East.
“That really sets the tone for us in terms of the quality of the restaurants and bars we want to surround it with.
“We see this as a real draw; Durham is situated nicely between the Tyneside, Teesside and Gateshead conurbations.
“We have got to raise the game; if we are competing on a national scale and pulling our weight in the UK, we have got to raise the game.
“There is not enough happening in the North-East and we feel we have a big role to play in that.
“Gateshead is an opportunity to offer high-end apartments, which will meet a growing demand.
“We are playing a long game.
“What we are doing requires some firm collaboration with local authorities and we are finding they are buying into it.
“They are around the table with us, with their sleeves rolled up.”
Mr McMillan was backed by Christopher Ives, development director at Carillion, who said the partnership’s work on DurhamGate was proof of what it can achieve.
He also confirmed he hopes it will have made good progress on the retail side of that project by the end of the year.
He added: “We are well on with the housing there and things are going well.
“We consider DurhamGate as a village in its own right and we have got to deliver more jobs.
“The amount of interest in it has been fantastic.”