A new partnership has been set up to lead the regeneration of Bishop Auckland town centre.
Statutory, voluntary and community agencies have come together to form the partnership which will be known as Brighter Bishop Auckland.
The partnership will seek to bring about and co-ordinate development in the heart of the town with a view to improving its economic performance, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of its heritage, and social and spiritual life.
The new body is to be chaired by the Bishop of Durham The Rt Reverend Paul Butler and will feature representatives from Durham County Council, Auckland Castle Trust, Eleven Arches, South Durham Enterprise Agency, Bishop Auckland College, Bishop Auckland Town Council and Historic England.
The partnership will encourage greater collaborative working by co-ordinating the activities and resources of its member agencies.
The first key task that the partnership has commenced is the production of a masterplan for the town centre, which will look at the following areas:
- Quality of the environment in the town centre;
- What key spaces in the town are used for and how people engage with them;
- How visitors will access, connect and orientate themselves in the town centre;
- What local agencies need to do to make the town centre function better.
The plan will identify possible improvements in the town centre as well as potential funding sources that will allow Bishop Auckland to benefit from an expected increase in visitor numbers over the next five to ten years.
The Rt Rev Butler said: “I am thrilled to have been asked to chair this group.
“The transformation in and around Bishop Auckland through the work of the Auckland Castle Trust, Eleven Arches Trust and the work of the town and county councils is amongst the most important happening in the UK currently.
“The impact of this work for the town and the region, its people and economy cannot be overstated.
“Chairing this group is an honour and is directly relevant to the priorities of my own diocese on children and young people, tackling poverty and church growth in order to bless our communities in Jesus’ name for the transformation of us all.
“Bishop Auckland town centre potentially has a very bright future.
“Together we need to imagine a brighter town centre and work together to turn it into a reality.
“I am privileged to be chairing the group that will seek to help us all work together for a brighter future.”
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic development, said: “Bishop Auckland is a very important town within our county and we are committed to doing all we can with our partners to ensure the best possible future for its residents and businesses.
“We look forward to working through the new partnership towards unlocking Bishop Auckland’s bright future.”