An already thriving cluster in County Durham is poised for expansion and to be a key site within a brand-new innovation district.
Aykley Heads Business Park, in Durham City, is set to develop and to be part of the new ‘Durham Innovation District,’ which is to be delivered by Durham County Council working with the world-class Durham University.
The innovation district is set to be a ‘triple helix’ model of public, private and education sectors working together.
As well as Aykley Heads, the district will boast both the new Durham University Business School and Milburngate, in the heart of Durham City.
The new innovation district in Durham City will build on the council’s track record of similar investment, including NETPark at Sedgefield, the UK’s premier science park, which is currently under expansion.
And to complete the triple helix, the county council’s Cabinet will next week be asked to support the procurement of a joint venture delivery partner.
If agreed, this partner will work with the authority and the university to redevelop the wider Aykley Heads site as part of the new district.
Cllr Amanda Hopgood, leader of the county council, said: “What we have done in recent months is reimagine our vision for Aykley Heads to a redevelopment of the site that is part of a wider innovation district that will have perfect conditions for businesses to grow.
“We believe this district can be of regional, national and international significance, and that it can be the driving force for County Durham’s future economic growth.
“The Durham Innovation District will be a uniquely attractive proposition in many ways. Not only is it centred in a UNESCO World Heritage Site city, but it will boast the triple helix that is the knowledge and skills of Durham University; the public sector jobs we are committing to Aykley Heads, which we hope will act as a catalyst for further development; and the expertise of a private sector delivery partner.
“The district will also boast excellent transport links including proximity to the East Coast Main Line and the A1, while the success of businesses already at Aykley Heads such as Atom Bank and Waterstons show the ingredients for success are already here.
“As with the expansion of NETPark with a third phase, the redevelopment of Aykley Heads and creation of the district are very much in line with the vision of our Inclusive Economic Strategy, which seeks to support business innovation, growth and higher levels of productivity. We look forward to bringing them all forward.”
The report to the cabinet meeting next Wednesday (September 13) sets out how the council is proceeding with moving out of its current County Hall headquarters which will be demolished to enable the wider Aykley Heads site to come forward for redevelopment, with 381,936 square feet to be available.
The report also sets out how the county council will be a key part of Aykley Heads with under-construction new office accommodation for the authority on ‘Plot C’.