M&S departed in 2018. Credit: planning documents

Danieli wins right to convert Durham M&S

In the face of competitor objections, the hospitality operator has secured consent to bring a Stack leisure destination to Silver Street in the city centre.

Durham Council’s planning committee this week granted permission for Danieli, advised by planning consultant Savills, to redevelop the former M&S unit, which closed in 2018 when the store was relocated to Arnison Retail Park.

The Silver Street space covers just short of 30,000 sq ft across four floors. Dunwoodie Swift Architects is advising on the project.

Stack Durham will take up the whole of the space, currently partly occupied by Yorkshire Trading Co, and will feature seven street food outlets, five bars, a coffee shop, stage, communal seating and a rooftop terrace, as well as an interactive gaming room with shuffleboard and darts.

The venue will create around 185 full and part time jobs, Danieli said. The firm’s professional team also includes heritage consultant Sarah Dyer, Apex Acoustics and Collington Winter Environmental, with Hydrock as civil and structural engineering consultant.

Although more than 20 hospitality operators in the area lodged objections to the proposals, along with Durham Parish Council and a residents’ petition, the proposals found favour at committee.

Councils across the UK have struggled in recent years to fill the holes left by department store groups reducing their footprints, and mixed-use projects, many including foodhalls and social spaces, have become an increasingly popular alternative as towns and cities look to renew the appeal of their retail and leisure cores.

Such repurposing projects also appeal to councils keen to demonstrate low-carbon credentials. As Savills’ planning statement said: “What is important about this proposal is that it will be delivered exclusively through the re-purposing of an existing building in a highly sustainable and accessible City Centre location.

“It is well established that the re-use of existing buildings supports planning objectives to address the challenge of climate change by minimising the impacts of development on the environment and ensuring that embodied carbon within existing buildings can be maintained.

“The proposal meets these objectives and the Site is situated in a location that is highly sustainable promoting low carbon usage through the site being well connected to the public transport network.”

Stack operations are already up and running in Newcastle and Seaburn, with a further site in Bishop Auckland’s Newgate now also approved.

Neil Winch,  chief executive, said of the twin County Durham applications that “we are in the business of transforming places, and we hope to be a catalyst for transformation in County Durham with a combined investment of more than £7m.

“We believe Stack will be a huge asset in both locations and will also give independent businesses in the area the opportunity to be involved as well as supporting both the day time and night time economy.”

The planning committee also considered plans by Snowdons Coaches, advised by Blake Hopkinson Architecture, for 41 one- and two-bedroom homes to the rear of the company’s premises in Easington village, Peterlee. The site is adjacent to a plot that has 96 consented homes.

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