Policy E1

Policy E1: Larger Employment Sites

Employment will be created at the two largest available sites on 8.8 hectares of non-Green Belt land at Aykley Heads (including Durham County Council’s County Hall site), and on 5.5 hectares of non-Green Belt land at the Durham Science Park at Mountjoy where full compliance will be required with high sustainability standards set out in master plans for these prime locations.

  1. The Aykley Heads Business Park: Prestige offices, business incubators and start-up businesses that fall within use classes B1a (Business – Offices) and B1b (Business – Research & Development) will be supported if proposals meet the master plan standards of sustainability.
  2. The Durham Science Park, Mountjoy: Science and high technology developments, business start-ups and incubators and education uses which fall within use class B1a (Business – offices) and B1b (Business – Research & Development) will be supported if proposals meet the master plan standards of sustainability.

The master plan standards for sustainability of both sites are the following:

  1. to respect the scarcity and quality of land by meeting the required level of job creation per unit of land to be developed;
  2. to add distinction to the City’s landscape and townscape and create harmony within the site by adherence to physical design guidelines;
  3. to respond to the threat of climate change by installation of energy generation systems designed on lifetime use and shared technologies such as combined heat and power, district heating and solar technology, shared waste management facilities and by the use of the highest current standard of insulation;
  4. to continuously reduce the impact of travel by employees and visitors by improving the provision for walking, cycling and public transport and limited provision of car parking carried out in accordance with an agreed travel plan;
  5. to contribute to well-being both within and adjacent to the site by the provision and maintenance of green infrastructure for the enjoyment of employees and the public.

4.133 Details of the sites (shown in Proposals Map 5  {shown in the Policy G3 webpage}) are as follows.

  • Site E1.1: The Aykley Heads Business Park is the largest and most important employment site and critical to the future attractiveness of the City to the location of future businesses. The land allocated for it is on the non-Green Belt part of this area. It will be an exemplar of sustainable development, as set out in sustainability Policy S1, and for which a master plan and design brief will be prepared. This land is scarce and valuable and can only be released for development that meet the highest standards which will be set out in the master plan and design brief and in overall accordance with guidance set out in NPPF (para. 124 and 127). Ancillary uses such as a café, a crèche, a gym and business support serving the principal high quality occupiers of Aykley Heads can be considered, but must pass a strict test of meeting the needs of those working on the site and thereby avoid the unnecessary loss of valuable and scarce land for prestige uses. Design must be appropriate to the settings of the World Heritage Site and the Durham City Conservation Area (particularly heritage Polices H1 and H2). Development of Aykley Heads should encourage associated improvement, management and recreational use of Local Green Space within the site including the retention of woodland and veteran trees and heritage assets.
  • Site E1.2: Durham Science Park, Mountjoy – As one of the two larger sites remaining, it must be an exemplar of sustainable development. This suggests that a master plan in accordance with guidance set out in NPPF (para. 124 and 127) for the whole site covering design standards, energy generation and use, transport and travel strategy including measures to deal with additional vehicular traffic on the local network), ecological improvement and protection (including a minimum buffer of 15m of native tree planting or green open space is required against the ancient woodland and the wetlands), resource efficiency, and community benefits will be required.

4.134 Durham Science Park is owned by Durham University and is situated next to the Mountjoy Research Centre. It is has good access both to the University and the City. Science Parks usually consist of low-density development of high-quality public realm buildings located in close proximity to a University campus, thereby allowing for the creation of close links between academic institutions and business. As such the site is well situated for start-up and incubator businesses and further educational buildings.

4.135 A comprehensive Environmental Assessment will need to be undertaken to show the effect that new development will have upon any site and in particular the Aykley Heads and the present Durham County Council Headquarters area. This site provides an exceptional opportunity to attract and generate high quality jobs to Durham. This Environmental Assessment will include traffic generation, the penetration of public transport into the site, visual impact, and loss of open space and protection of nature conservation interests, as set out in the green infrastructure Policy G1. It will include an assessment of the mitigation measures appropriate to the development in a mature parkland landscape. The Environmental Assessment will form the basis upon which individual planning applications will be brought forward for the development of the land at these sites. Developments should favour sustainable transport to minimise any adverse effect created by the development on the environment (see transport Policy T1).

4.136 New commercial development should incorporate a communal open area, outdoor where possible, to enhance the well-being of their employees and benefits to the public.

Next section: Policy E2: Other Employment Sites

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