The Aykley Heads Business Park
Proposals for development of B1a and B1b uses will be supported at the Aykley Heads site shown in Proposals Map 5 where these are in accordance with a masterplan or other design and development framework prepared under Policy S2.
4.147 Aykley Heads is the largest and most important employment site and critical to the future attractiveness of the City for the location of future businesses. The land identified 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 masterplan or other design and development framework will be prepared, see Policy S2. This land is scarce and valuable and can only be released for development that meets the highest standards which will be set out in the masterplan or other design and development framework with guidance set out in the NPPF Chapter 12: Achieving well-designed places (para. 124 and 127). Ancillary uses such as a cafe, 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 the Local Green Space within the site and other green spaces, including the retention of woodland and veteran trees and heritage assets.
4.148 In the Pre-submission Draft of the Neighbourhood Plan 5.5 hectares of non-Green Belt land at the Durham Science Park at Mountjoy was identified as a site in Policy E1. Durham Science Park is owned by Durham University and is situated next to the Mountjoy Research Centre. However, the new Mathematical Sciences and Computing Science building now largely occupies the site and an area has also been set aside for an approved car park. As very little land therefore remains undeveloped it has been removed as an identified site. However, the site is in close proximity to ancient woodland which is well-used by local residents and contains assets of wildlife value including a pond. It is therefore still important to protect this existing environmental setting, e.g. by providing a buffer of native tree planting or green open space against the woodland and wetland.
4.149 An Environmental Impact Assessment will need to be undertaken of any proposed development which is likely to have significant effects on the environment at 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. Developments should favour sustainable transport to minimise any adverse effect created by the development on the environment (see transport Policy T1).
4.150 The provision of safe and well-connected pedestrian and cycle paths from the Aykley Heads site will allow employees to easily travel to and from transport hubs, residences and the City Centre. This will have two specific benefits; by increasing footfall within the retail area and thereby boosting the economy; and helping to reduce a reliance on motor vehicles. The Durham Science Park would also benefit from such sustainable transport infrastructure.
4.151 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