• Mon. Dec 11th, 2023

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County Durham town masterplans updated

Durham County Council’s Cabinet will hear the first half of an update on recent successes and future plans for towns across County Durham when it meets this week (14 December).

The masterplans are the council’s regeneration framework for each major town in the county and Cabinet will be asked to approve updated versions of the plans for Consett, Crook, Newton Aycliffe, Durham City, Chester-le-Street and Stanley when they meet. This will be followed by masterplan updates for Peterlee, Seaham, Spennymoor, Shildon, Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland which are due to go to the next Cabinet meeting in January 2017.

The updated plans profile each of the towns, detailing investment and work across the county as well as plans for the future. In addition to highlighting the range of activities undertaken by the council – including improvements to town centres, highways, education and health provision – they also identify the development of new businesses, housing and community facilities.

If approved by Cabinet the adopted masterplans will continue to evolve, with the council’s Area Action Partnerships continuing to play a key role in shaping them to ensure that they reflect the priorities of local residents.

Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The updated masterplans are key documents, setting a clear way forward to bring even further investment and improvements to towns throughout the county.

“The masterplans show how the council has invested millions of pounds, right across County Durham, and encouraged even more investment from the private sector; boosting business, safeguarding and creating new jobs, improving education and transport and creating new housing and community facilities.

“Future plans are just as exciting, with the development of Forrest Park in Newton Aycliffe aiming to create over 3,000 jobs and boost the economy by nearly half a billion pounds and a major private sector investment promising a total redevelopment of the riverside in Durham City. Major retailers are planning new supermarkets in Crook and Stanley and we will continue to invest in our roads and schools as well as targeting support for businesses and high streets countywide to improve the local economy.”

Among a range of other success stories and future plans, Cabinet will hear how Consett has benefitted from over £600,000 of public realm works to improve the town centre and encourage more shoppers. Looking forward, Dunlop BTL will be expanding operations into the area following a £2.2 million investment which will see the creation of around 60 new jobs and the company take over the former KP Crisps factory.

As well as a range of targeted business improvements in the town centre, works to a new pedestrian area in Crook will support the development of two new supermarkets which are both due to open next year. The town can also look forward to nearly £1 million of investment in Crook Primary School next summer.

In Newton Aycliffe Hitachi continues to go from strength to strength with the £82 million vehicle manufacturing facility now established. The recently announced council plan to prepare the 52 hectare Forrest Park site for private sector investment – following a successful £13 million funding bid to the Local Enterprise Partnership – aims to create over 3,000 jobs and add nearly half a billion pounds in Gross Value Added to the local economy.

Durham City has seen the successful relocation of the Passport Office and National Savings, keeping jobs in the county, to the new Freeman’s Reach development. This freed up the Milburngate House site for redevelopment and, alongside the redevelopment of The Gates, is due to completely transform the riverside area, creating restaurants, cinemas and housing. The council has also recently consulted on designs for the new bus station as part of the ongoing regeneration of North Road, one of the key gateways to the city, creating a pedestrianised area and freeing up a potential site for a major retailer.

Significant improvements have been delivered to the road networks in Chester-le-Street, increasing traffic flow, reducing congestion and improving air quality. As well as major National Pinch Point Fund improvements to Junction 63 of the A1(M), works have also been delivered in line with the Local Transport Plan which has benefitted the A693 Drum Industrial Estate roundabout and the A167/A693 Northlands Roundabout.

Continued support for the town centre will see targeted business improvements carried out to shop fronts to enhance the look of the main retail area and encourage more trade. Housing has also been boosted in the area with Cestria Homes’ new development The Elms, which includes an extra care facility, as well as Chapter Homes also considering development on Newcastle Road.

Targeted business improvements have also played a major part in measures taken in Stanley with £389,000 of council and private investment in recent years. 23 businesses have been supported with funding targeting town centre firms to regenerate derelict and underused properties. As well as continuing this approach with a focus on the South Moor and Craghead areas, proposals for a new supermarket are also expected to provide a boost to the regeneration of the top end of the town. The council will also be looking to implement its Landlord Accreditation Scheme in the area to ensure better quality housing is available to tenants.

Cabinet will hear about the work carried out so far and be asked to approve the updated masterplans when it meets at County Hall at 10am on Wednesday, 14 November.