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Council cabinet to be updated on multimillion-pound funding submission for town improvements

Published January 05, 2021 3.48pm

Councillors will this month be updated on plans to bid for Government funding which could help provide tens of millions of pounds of improvements to a North East town and the surrounding area.

Bishop Auckland drone picture

An aerial image of Bishop Auckland town centre.

Last year Bishop Auckland, in County Durham, was selected to participate in the Stronger Towns Programme and make a bid for up to £50 million in grants.

A Stronger Town Board was then established to develop project proposals which it hopes will help accelerate the regeneration of the town while also having a positive impact on the wider county and region.

A vision agreed by the Town Deal Board is that Bishop Auckland will be "a world-class Heritage Visitor Destination of UK national importance; a 21st Century bustling market town and service centre for the whole of South West Durham and gateway to the Durham Dales".

Several projects have been identified to continue the programme of change and investment in the town, aiming to improve facilities; create jobs and also help residents access new opportunities.

Masterplan priorities

The Stronger Towns proposals build on priorities established through the Bishop Auckland Masterplan process and the bid for funds made in June 2020 under the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF). It was announced at the end of last year that Bishop Auckland will be given £19.9 million from the FHSH, which aims to support areas to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and help to protect and create new jobs in the region.

A report on the Bishop Auckland Stronger Towns Fund is set to go before our Cabinet on Wednesday 13 January. It will update councillors on the bid and also recommend that authority for its submission is delegated to our corporate directors for regeneration, economy and growth; and resources in consultation with the leader, deputy leader and portfolio holder for economic regeneration.

Important funding 

Cllr Carl Marshall, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "Bishop Auckland is already a fantastic place to live, work and visit but as a council we are always looking to improve our communities in any way that we can.

"The Stronger Towns Programme is a great opportunity to boost employment, tourism and the cultural offering in County Durham and we'll be taking into consideration all of the feedback we've had so far before finalising and submitting the bid to Government.

"This funding would be vitally important to the recovery of the county as we continue to deal with the sizeable effect that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the area.

"Our plans detail further ambitious proposals for transport infrastructure as well as investment in digital, employment and training opportunities which will greatly improve the lives of residents."

Identified projects 

Projects identified for investment by the Stronger Town board include:

  • Developing new road infrastructure to support Bishop Auckland's development as a World class Heritage Destination
  • Creating new workspaces with associated enterprise support
  • Developing a Skills and Training Hub - providing a springboard into employment for residents
  • Creating a Durham Dales Gateway, through developing the Weardale Railway offer
  • Town centre diversification projects
  • Infrastructure improvements at Tindale Crescent to address current traffic flows
  • Establishing Bishop Auckland as a digital 5G enabled town
  • Improving heritage walking and cycling routes, signage, waymarking and interpretation
  • Securing a new heritage transport museum.

As part of a consultation, members of the public can complete a short survey which should take no longer than 10 minutes by going to the Bishop Auckland Town Stronger Towns website

The deadline for contributing to the consultation is Monday 11 January, with the Town Investment Plan set to be submitted at the end of January.

More details about the funding bid are available at the organisation's website

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