PARISH councillors are writing to the Government to ask it to step in to make a decision on whether plans for a new council headquarters should go ahead.

Durham County Council wants to move from its current home in Aykley Heads to Durham city centre, where it is proposing to build a new County Hall on The Sands car park.

The City of Durham Council held an extraordinary meeting this week to discuss the proposals and agreed to write to the Secretary of State to ask the application to be called in for national scrutiny.

A planning application, made by Kier Property Developments, has been submitted to Durham County Council.

The council is seeking further legal guidance on how to challenge the plans and have called a public meeting in the city to give people a chance to have their say.

Chairwoman councillor Elizabeth Scott said: “As a council we are united in our opposition to such an unsympathetic building and multi storey car park being built in this location.

“It will be an environmental disaster. There are better options which the county council has dismissed and they need to go back to the drawing board. Our meeting on the 17th will allow the people of Durham to voice their concerns in a public forum.”

The council says the new building, which will be a third smaller than the current County Hall will be cheaper to run and better suited to modern ways of working.

It wants to vacate Aykley Heads to make way for a business park, which could create up to 6,000 jobs.

The Sands was chosen as the best location for the new build following an analysis of several sites but has prompted public outcry.

The council hopes the city centre location will provide a boost for businesses which will benefit from the additional footfall during the week while critics say it will cause traffic problems, increase pollution levels and disrupt residents.

Cllr Richard Ormerod, who called for the meeting, said: “It is vital that the people of Durham have their say on the matter as this building will be detrimental to their quality of life for years to come if it goes ahead.”

The parish meeting takes place in Durham Town Hall, in the Market Place, on Monday, September 17. It starts at 7pm. Doors open at 6.30pm.