North East business groups back benefits to Durham City of Mount Oswald development proposal

January 8, 2013 | Mt Oswald News


The north east’s two leading business membership organisations have backed plans for the development of the Mount Oswald site in Durham City to bring a wide range of much-needed economic and social benefits to the area.

The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have both written to Durham County Council to give their support to the plans put forward by the Durham-based Banks Group for the site, which encompass executive housing, an education quarter, new formal and informal public open spaces and a range of new community facilities. 

Banks has designed the Mount Oswald scheme in support of Durham County Council’s vision of Durham City acting as a driver of economic growth in the county, and if it is approved, it would support approximately 220 local jobs, with around 120 people employed on site during the construction phase of the scheme, and a further 100 jobs across the supply chain.

The Chamber, which numbers more than 4,000 businesses of all sizes from right across the region amongst its membership, has said it believes the Mount Oswald scheme would help ‘to attract and retain the highly-skilled and higher wealth individuals’ that the city needs to secure its future economic sustainability.

The ‘much needed fillip for the area’s construction industry’ that the development would provide  was also highlighted in the Chamber’s letter, with ‘a slowdown in house building (being) one of the contributing factors to the sector’s current malaise’ which would be ‘exacerbated’ by ‘further indecision’.

The Chamber has also noted that ‘the development would create high quality public spaces in the area, help to address student housing issues and provide new retail opportunities which would not negatively impact upon others in the city.’

The FSB, which works to promote and protect small and micro-businesses, believes the ‘investment and job creation’ entailed in the Mount Oswald scheme ‘will help to ensure Durham can tackle the economic challenges of public sector cuts head on.’

Up to a further 154 permanent jobs could be supported by the different elements of the Mount Oswald development when it is complete, with local employment opportunities being created on the site through a new convenience store, small offices and the sustainable re-use of the Mount Oswald manor house.

Jonathan Walker, NECC’s head of member relations, says: “The Banks Group’s plans are an excellent example of the type of progressive development we need in the North East. Not only will it provide executive housing in Durham City which will help attract and retain talent to the region, the plans also include the provision of more student accommodation, which will support the continued development of Durham University.

“The economic downturn hit the North East construction sector particularly hard. We cannot risk losing the skills that we have developed over generations and neither can we underestimate the wider benefits that construction projects bring to the region. It is essential, therefore, that councillors and planning officials do all that they can to back developments such as Mount Oswald and bring them to construction as swiftly as possible.”

Ted Salmon, FSB North East Regional Chairman, adds:  “The FSB in the North East supports the Banks Group plans for Mount Oswald. With the potential creation of 120 construction jobs directly and a further 100 across the supply chain these plans would also secure £200m of investment.

“The long-term benefits of this investment are also clear, with the creation of 164 permanent jobs, attracting new families into the area and helping to generate an estimated £3.4m additional expenditure in the Durham City economy.

“This investment and job creation will help to ensure that Durham can tackle the economic challenges of public sector cuts head on.”

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “The FSB, NECC and their respective members are playing a central role in creating a sustainable economic future for the region, a process in which Durham City has a crucial role to play, and their recognition and backing of how our Mount Oswald scheme would contribute to this is very welcome.

“As an established Durham-based family business, we want to play our part in helping the County Council deliver its vision of Durham City becoming a driver of economic growth in County Durham, and firmly believe that our Mount Oswald proposals would contribute significantly to this work.

“The Mount Oswald development would create substantial numbers of jobs both during its development and after its completion, as well as supporting employment elsewhere in the city, and would also bring increased revenues for the local and regional economies, especially through the provision of housing options which would attract and retain high-achieving entrepreneurs and a highly-skilled workforce.

“In addition to this, it would also deliver a wide range of other benefits to the area, including the creation of new public open spaces, much-needed community facilities and improved wildlife habitats, and we believe there is a very compelling case for planning approval to be granted for it.”

Banks submitted a planning application for the Mount Oswald scheme in August last year, and is hoping that a decision will be made on it early in 2013.  Anyone who would like more information on the Mount Oswald development proposals can contact the Banks community relations team by calling 0191 378 6100 or emailing

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