Durham Riverside Renewal

Freeman's Reach feeds National Grid with green power from hydro-generator


Hydro-electricity is being generated at the heart of Durham City after Freeman’s Reach, the Legal & General funded scheme, became the UK’s first city centre development to incorporate a fully-operational hydro-power generator.

Following the completion of a detailed commissioning process, an innovative water turbine is now harvesting energy from the River Wear, which is driving the 100kw generator.

Power generated at Freeman’s Reach is fed directly into the National Grid and distributed throughout its network. The turbine and generator will be operated and maintained by Durham County Council.

Utilising the power of the river, the generator is able to produce electricity that is the equivalent of 75 percent of the total energy requirement of the development.

The power generation is made possible by a 13-metre long, 20-tonne Archimedean screw, which is driven by the flow of the River Wear.

A variable speed drive controls the system according to the available river flow. Its regular operating speed is 18rpm, generating 60kw of power, with a maximum operating speed of 24rpm, which creates an output of 99kw.

The hydro-turbine has been designed to generate renewable energy 24 hours a day, which will also enable Freeman’s Reach to be awarded an ‘A’ Rated Energy Performance Certificate and BREEAM* Excellent status.

The Archimedean screw also improves the ecology of the river as its design incorporates an improved fish pass, which was created in consultation with the Environment Agency and enables fish and elvers to travel upstream more easily.

A fish counter has also been installed, which not only records numbers, but can also differentiate species. All of this information is passed via a telecom link to the Environment Agency.

The new turbine continues the legacy of hydro-power generation at Freeman’s Reach, which dates back more than 800 years to the original medieval Bishop’s Mill. Throughout the centuries a variety of buildings have benefited from the energy created by the River Wear including the former ice rink, which was powered by a 1930s turbine.

The new hydro-turbine is set to become a visitor attraction in its own right, as is an Energy Centre at Freeman’s Reach. They will be joined by a public art installation charting the history of energy generation on the site that will be installed on completion of phase 2 of the development.

Ian Beaumont, Project Director for the Freeman’s Reach Development, said: “We are immensely proud our development in Durham City is making a sustainable contribution to the UK’s electricity requirements.

“The green credentials of Freeman’s Reach make it a stand out development in the North East and demonstrates how a collaborative approach between developers and stakeholders can deliver a unique solution that benefits the area, its ecology and the environment.”

“It is also a great honour to be able to continue the legacy of energy generation at Freeman’s Reach. The opportunity to harness the power of the River Wear has been a hallmark of the site for hundreds of years and, by applying innovative technology, the river is enabling us to achieve the highest standards of sustainability.”

Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, said: “This is remarkable technology which not only demonstrates Durham County Council’s commitment to renewable energy but will also be an important landmark and visitor attraction.”

Freeman’s Reach is being developed by a consortium led by Carillion Developments, part of Carillion plc, Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital LLP. It is being delivered by a workforce of in excess of 300, which is made up of predominately North East-based contractors and professional service providers.

It will become the new home of National Savings and Investments (NS&I) and Her Majesty’s Passport Office and will open up this part of the riverside to local people and visitors for the first time in generations.

Phase 1 of the development, which is on course for completion in the New Year, will accommodate around 400 NS&I employees. Phase 2, the new Passport Office, which is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2016, will secure 950 jobs (812 full-time equivalent) in the city.

With improved visitor amenities, particularly for those arriving by coach, Freeman’s Reach will offer daytime and evening café/restaurant facilities as well as featuring a new tree-lined Riverside Walk.



CONTACT: Jamie Collis on 01325 363436

Editor’s Notes:

*BREEAM is the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, with 250,000 buildings with certified BREEAM assessment ratings and over a million registered for assessment since it was first launched in 1990.

About Freeman’s Reach

The development consortium for the Freeman’s Reach project is consists of Carillion Developments, part of Carillion plc, and Arlington Real Estate, supported by Richardsons Capital LLP. The project is funded by Legal & General Property.

The development project leader is Allan Cook, Managing Director of Arlington Real Estate. Allan is a North East based regeneration specialist and property developer.

Arlington Real Estate and Carillion also work in partnership on another flagship County Durham development, DurhamGate. Located five miles south of Durham City, DurhamGate is on the site of Black & Decker former UK headquarters and, at 60 acres, is the largest regeneration project in the North East.

According to the Sunday Times 2014 ‘Best Places to Live’ listing:

“Durham is a lovely place to live. Beneath its glorious cathedral, you’ll find pretty cobbled streets stuffed with little independent shops and great watering holes, a beautiful river that carves its way through dramatic walls of rock and greenery, and some attractive house stock – along with a thriving buy-to-let market, thanks to all those students. One of the nicest places to live is South Street, which looks directly onto the cathedral and castle, and which inspired Sir Walter Scott. Many of its terraced houses are grade II listed; prices range from £400,000 to more than £1m.”


About Carillion

Carillion Developments is leading a consortium for the development of Freeman’s Reach, which is made up of North East property company, Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital.

Carillion Developments is part of the UK’s leading support services company, Carillion plc.

Carillion is a leading integrated support services company with a substantial portfolio of Public Private Partnership projects and extensive construction capabilities. The Group had annual revenue in 2013 of some £4.1 billion, employs around 40,000 people and operates across the UK, in the Middle East and Canada.

Carillion is a member of the FTSE4Good Index and in 2013 the Group was awarded Platinum Big Tick status in Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index. It has also achieved an ‘A-list’ position on the 2014 FTSE 350 Climate Performance and Disclosure Leadership Index, placing it within the top echelon of global companies with regard to actions to mitigate climate change.

The Group has four business segments:

Support services – this includes facilities management, facilities services, energy services, utility services, road maintenance, rail services and consultancy businesses in the UK, Canada and the Middle East.

Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects - this includes investing activities in PPP projects for Government buildings and infrastructure, mainly in the Defence, Health, Education, Transport and Secure accommodation sectors.

Middle East construction services - this includes building and civil engineering activities in the Middle East.

Construction services(excluding the Middle East) - this includes building, civil engineering and developments activities in the UK and construction activities in Canada.

Legal & General Property:

Legal & General Property (LGP) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), one of Europe’s largest institutional asset managers and a major global investor. LGIM manages approximately £465bn in assets on behalf of over 3,100 clients (30 June 2014) and provides products and solutions spanning all asset classes. LGP is the third largest institutional property fund manager in the UK, managing or co-managing 17 separate funds or vehicles including three segregated mandates with an aggregate asset value of £14.5bn as at 30 October 2014. These funds include:

  • Balanced Funds
  • oLife Fund; Linked Pensions; Linked Life; Managed Fund; Legal & General UK Property Fund; UK Property Income Fund I; UK Property Income Fund II; LPI Income Property Fund and the Hybrid Property Fund
  • Specialist Pooled Funds
  • oThe Leisure Fund Limited Partnership; Industrial Property Investment Fund; Arlington Business Parks Partnership; and the English Cities Fund
  • Single Asset Vehicles
  • oBracknell Regeneration Partnership; Central Saint Giles Partnership.

LGP’s UK-focused fund management platform has built and retained a strong track record of out-performance. Owing to its size, diversity and penetration, it benefits from best-in-class banking and property contacts which, along with its wealth of in-house skill and expertise, have enabled it to continue to attract and secure high quality market opportunities.

Taking a client-centric approach, the business places the highest priority upon integrity and transparency, leveraging the significant resources provided by the wider LGIM platform. Protecting the medium to long term value of its portfolio, as a leader in sustainability, green principles are embedded into every property and investment decision.

Sector specialists cover each sphere of the market and are supported by LGP’s market-leading research capability. In particular, the Company has a major development platform, responsible for delivering community-focused projects ranging from West End landmark buildings to significant town-centre retail and leisure regeneration schemes.

Forming part of the Group’s larger UK housing and infrastructure investment strategy, LGP also continues to participate in a growing range of supply side housing activities, including financing affordable homes, the house building sector, urban regeneration, student accommodation and care homes.

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Project Director Ian Beaumont (left) and Carillion Building’s Michael Gallon overlooking the hydro-turbine at Freeman’s Reach
Project Director Ian Beaumont (left) and Carillion Building’s Michael Gallon overlooking the hydro-turbine at Freeman’s Reach
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