Policy E5: Visitor Attractions
New, extended or refurbished visitor attractions will be supported where:
- There is potential to improve the quality of the visitor experience and to extend the time visitors stay in the City while strengthening the economy and creating jobs
- The type of experience to be made available meets an acknowledged need such as heritage interpretation, an art gallery, conference venue, and family attractions
- A significant contribution to the quality of the City’s environment in respect of its location, scale, and detailed design and potential for use of vacant buildings. In particular proposals, which are sympathetic to, and in harmony with, the Durham vernacular architecture
- The site is accessible to visitors and is well related both in location to other attractions and facilities
- The location, use and design is harmonious in respect of its relationship to nearby properties and local residents in avoiding congestion, noise and other potential nuisance.
Policy E6: Visitor accommodation
New, extended or refurbished visitor accommodation will be supported where:
- The accommodation to be provided would improve the range and quality available
- The location is well located in relation to visitor attractions
- The location, scale and appearance is suited to the character of the area
- The location, use and design is harmonious in respect of its relationship to nearby properties and local residents in avoiding congestion, noise and other nuisance
- Provided that in all cases a condition of consent to the provision of such accommodation be imposed to restrict continuous occupation to a period not exceeding six months.
Justification for Policies E5 and E6
4.152 The NPPF (Chapters 6 and 7) emphasises building a strong and competitive economy and ensuring the vitality of town centres. Planning policies should take “a positive approach to their [town centres] growth, management and adaptation” (NPPF para. 85) a particularly important requirement for town centres which are in decline, as in Durham City in recent years.
4.153 The Visit County Durham (2016) Durham Tourism Management Plan 2016- 2020 identifies the immediate action needed to deliver the tourism strategy for the County and City. Of particular importance to the economy is the need to improve facilities to lengthen the amount of time that visitors spend in the area. In terms of new development, the Management Plan identifies the main gap in the tourism experience to be the lack of a cluster of attractions in Durham City that clearly benefit other historic cities. Other facilities needed within the County, and therefore possibly to be considered within Our Neighbourhood, are conference venues, art galleries and family attractions. A City with a World Heritage Site is expected by visitors to have a gallery of some sort, but Our Neighbourhood lacks a regionally or nationally significant art space. Policy E5 seeks to achieve the balance between meeting acknowledged needs and protecting the environment of the City and its residents. Although the NPPF (para. 85) recommends the allocation of a range of sites, any such allocation in the the Neighbourhood Plan would risk the loss of a potential development opportunity for another suitable use.
4.154 Comments received during the consultations have been assessed for potential improvements of the policies. There is general support for the provision of new and better attractions for the benefit of both residents and visitors.
4.155 There is a need for more and better visitor accommodation in the City, which is identified in the Durham Tourism Management Plan to be “boutique hotels – particularly in Durham City, quality bed and breakfast accommodation, inns with rooms, good quality 3 star properties” (Visit County Durham, 2016, p. 20). Policy E6 seeks to achieve a balance between meeting acknowledged needs and protecting the environment of the City and its residents.
Next section: Theme 4: A city with attractive and affordable places to live