Efforts to turn a prestigious historic city into a “world class” destination creating up to 7,500 jobs are under way.
Despite it already boasting a World Heritage Site showcasing its cathedral and castle, planning chiefs hope to regenerate Durham over the next five years in an attempt to make the city “a world class location for commerce, for living and for visiting.”
By freeing up land currently classed as green belt, Durham County Council wants to create 5,120 new homes on land north of Arnison, at Sniperley and off Sherburn Road.
Aykley Heads, just outside the city centre, currently home to Durham Police headquarters, would be redeveloped to create a “major prestige business park’ creating a central business quarter in the city.
The police will move onto a disused sports field nearby as part of an ongoing £15m modernisation for the force. City planners hope the move to renovate the site as a business hub will create between 5,000 and 7,500 jobs within the city centre. Public sector investments of around £130m could generate funds of £850m for the city.
In a report revealing the changes Coun Neil Foster, responsible for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, said: “Durham is one of the most historic cities in northern England.
“As a place Durham has always been important to the wider county, but its wider significance and potential have tended to be understated and underdeveloped in the past.
“Through a new approach to regeneration and spatial planning the city is now being given the opportunity to grow significantly.
“Achieving this major step-change relies upon carefully planned growth and preserving and enhancing the city’s historic assets, which make Durham such a unique place, of global significance.”
If backed, there would be a major redevelopment of stores in North Road and Claypath.
There are also plans to boost the city’s tourism potential with a new visitor attraction appealing to people from all over the country. The major plans will go before the council’s cabinet on September 18 and out for public consultation on October 14. They form just part of the council’s long-term plans for the county.
Also on the drawing board are plans to vastly redevelop Spennymoor. Funding of £37m could be spent on the town in the hope of generating £276m of further investment. Over the next three to five years Festival Walk could be redeveloped along with hopes to bring new businesses and homes to the area. More than 14 hectares are currently protected for employment and business growth.
Coun Foster said: “Spennymoor is an attractive location offering a range of housing and employment opportunities that have grown around a town centre which provides a good opportunity for retail and other businesses.”