A NORTH-East authority is set to approve funding for the first phase of a scheme aimed at creating up to 6,000 new jobs.

Durham County Council, which had previously announced its plans for the business park on its land at Aykley Heads, in Durham city, is now set to commit to developing the project itself.

The council, which estimates the private sector business park could be worth £400m to County Durham, wants to bring forward the first part of the site next year.

Members of the authority’s cabinet are being asked to approve an undisclosed sum for the project when it meets next week, as well as about £0.5m to bring in the expertise needed to take the scheme forward.

Councillor Simon Henig, council leader, said: “Aykley Heads presents us with a game-changing opportunity to create a distinctive business location for the North East, providing high quality modern office space in a stunning setting.

“Sites of this calibre are rarely available and there is currently nothing that matches it within the region. We should not underestimate the potential of this location and it’s important that we take the lead in helping to bring it forward.”

Councillors will meet next week to agree the next steps in taking the proposal forward, which include agreeing the capital funding for the first plot, to be built next to Atom Bank.

A report detailing its finance will be considered in a private meeting.

The first phase of the park includes three sites. The second plot to be developed on council-owned land to the south of Salvus House, with the decision on funding to be made by Ian Thompson, director of regeneration and local services, and John Hewitt, director of resources.

The final plot of phase one is on land currently owned by Durham Police, and the council is currently in negotiations over price.

Cabinet members are also being asked to approve funding of £585,000, which will cover the cost of bringing in the necessary expertise to deliver the scheme and marketing for the project, which is due to start in January.

Planning consultants were appointed in the spring and the council hopes to secure planning permission by next April, and complete the first plot by November 2021.

The second phase of the park involves building on land currently occupied by County Hall with the third phase on the field opposite Police Headquarters.