Headlines: June 30th, 2005

A big public consultation exercise has been launched by two local authorities that have worked together to establish a vision for the future of the city of Durham. The consultation will allow local people to have their say on redevelopment options and follows 20 months of joint working by Durham City and Durham County Councils.

The two authorities have been working with a team of consultants, and local volunteers, to identify key sites for change. The councils are also working in partnership with One NorthEast, the regional development agency, Durham University and the Chapter of Durham. Together the five organisations make up a Steering Group for the Durham City Vision and Master Plan.

The consultation exercise will include a series of exhibitions and events. As well as establishing a special website – www.durhamvision.org.uk <http://www.durhamvision.org.uk> – the authorities are also producing leaflets, newspaper supplement and a video. There will also be a questionnaire about future options for people to complete.

The consultants have identified a number of key locations in the city, which they see as being ripe for change. These are being publicised during the 8-week consultation. A new Master Plan will be published in September. It will be rooted in the Durham Vision and Master Plan project, which has been investigating potential retail, leisure, residential and transport developments and looking at management and landscape improvements.

The consultants have been helped over the 20 months by a group of 50 volunteers drawn from different walks of life across the city. The so-called ‘Durham Voices’ have taken part in a series of workshops designed to discover the needs and ideas of local people.

Susan Williamson, of consultants The Chambers, said the Durham Voices had provided a good start to the process now their fellow citizens needed to give their views. “We hope that people will like what is being outlined, but we welcome more input,” she said.

Councillor Fraser Reynolds, Leader of Durham City Council, said people saw Durham as a very special place and the ideas that would be developed would be their city’s legacy for future generations. Lawrence Revill, director of lead consultants, David Lock Associates, believed many people perceived the centre of Durham as being dominated by roads and traffic but once they got out of their cars and began walking they found they were in a medieval city. “We are trying to find ways in which Durham’s character as an historic place can be re-established.”