Contractors working on the creation of the new Durham Investigative Hub are celebrating a major new milestone after boosting the social and economic value of the project beyond £10m.
The Durham Gate development, which will provide more than 6,600m2 of up-to-date accommodation including 48 modern cells, has been intentionally designed to improve local opportunities, life chances and wellbeing for local people.
County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen set an ambitious goal to generate £6m in social value through the scheme by securing local contracts, creating new jobs and increasing opportunities for people to obtain and develop new skills.
Long before the project’s completion date, the development has surpassed its original aims with more than £10m now spent locally.
Aycliffe firms SCH Site Services (above) and Aspect Facades have both worked on the project, while more than £18m of the overall contract was spent in the North-East.
On top of this, the project has generated new employment and work experience placements while the team has volunteered more than 150 hours with local charities including housing charity DASH and St Cuthbert’s Hospice.
Commissioner Allen, who is the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) joint lead for environment and sustainability, took the decision to include social value principles in procurement tenders shortly after her appointment to encourage successful bidders to award goods and service contracts to organisations based in County Durham and Darlington.
This saw leading UK building, infrastructure, engineering and fitout company Tilbury Douglas Construction appointed as principal construction contractor on the two-storey project.
She said: “I am proud of the outstanding work that has been taking place to draw out the full potential of this development and leave a positive legacy across our communities.
“When we embarked on this project, I had every faith we would honour our pledge to make a difference.
“What I wasn’t expecting was how quickly we would exceed our own expectations and build on our commitments with further support for our workforce and communities.
“This is an example of partnership working at its best and shows what can be achieved when public organisations work in tandem with the community and businesses to make their limited resources go even further.”
Andy Braid, operations director for specialist steel contractors SCH Site Services, said the project was helping to keep highly-skilled workers in the North-East area.
“All of our site teams are North-East based and from the local area,” he said.
“We have a full complement in the factory and on site and everyone has at some stage been involved on this job.
“We spend a lot of time trying to keep our workers as close to home as possible. We like to target jobs in the North-East and we always have done.
“This project is close to our hearts with it being in Spenny and so for us, we very much wanted to be a part of it.
“It’s important to us as a business that we think about our carbon footprint and are not sending our people in vans and on trains down to London and on the flipside, we don’t want people from London driving up here to do work. We want all our workers to go home to their families at night.”
Once completed next spring, the hub will provide a range of office space, interview rooms, Crime Scene Investigation provision, evidence stores, virtual courts, CCTV, an energy centre, medical facilities and forensic examination rooms in addition to 48 modern cells.