Durham County Council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve the purchase of offices on the Aykley Heads site to support job growth and create a new cutting-edge business incubator scheme.
The council has been in discussions to potentially buy Salvus House since the previous occupiers vacated the site in 2015. Members are now being recommended to approve the purchase of the 32,000 square feet of office space as part of a scheme costing just under £3.4 million.
If agreed, the scheme would see the majority of the space let to businesses with one or two floors housing a new Durham City Incubator (DCI). It’s a move which it’s hoped will safeguard or create 200 jobs with a further 500 indirectly.
The DCI would see the development of a new collaborative partnership between the council, Durham University and New College Durham to support new entrepreneurial businesses. Companies would be able to rent space in the building but there will also be incubation space for rent for those companies which are just getting established. Longer term it is hoped that these new companies will expand into offices on the Aykley Heads site. The council’s role in the scheme, as well as management of the office space, would be carried out by Business Durham, the authority’s business gateway. The income from the site is expected to see the facility become self-financing from its fourth year of operation.
There have been a number of expressions of interest in the Aykley Heads site from businesses since the county council received praise for its innovative approach to business support. Most notably for the approach which secured Atom Bank to Aykley Heads site by taking shares in the company rather than charging for the use of the building. By agreeing to the purchase of the offices, the council can provide a modern space for businesses which want to locate in the area, securing jobs for County Durham and further cementing Aykley Heads’ reputation as a growing area for cutting-edge companies.
Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The purchase of Salvus House would not only create and safeguard jobs but would see the council, along with our partners, supporting the next generation of County Durham’s businesses.
“Creating a stronger economy in County Durham is one of the council’s highest priorities which is why we are taking direct action to support business and create and protect local jobs. From our innovative approach which saw the country’s first digital bank choose Durham to the recent announcement of Finance Durham – which will see the creation of a £20 million fund investing in new local start-up companies – the council is making a major difference in economic outlook for our county and its residents.”
Cabinet meet on 13 July at County Hall. The full Cabinet paper can be viewed here