PROJECTS TO IMPROVE THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL REALM
1. The statutory requirement of a neighbourhood plan is to set out planning policies and proposals for the use and development of land. This has been done in Chapters 1 to 5. Nevertheless, the preparation of our Neighbourhood Plan provides the opportunity for the public to express views on other types of improvements that are seen to be necessary and desirable. The ideas and proposals expressed during the consultation process so far have been brought together as possible projects under each element of the vision for further consideration by the public and action by the most appropriate bodies. An important part of the draft plan consultation will be to test the feasibility of the 22 resulting projects with the public and the potential implementers of the projects.
2. There are many bodies that could potentially implement these projects, individually or in partnership. These bodies include, but are not restricted to: Durham County Council; a Town Council for Durham (if one is established); the Durham City Action Area Partnership; the Durham City Regeneration Body (a company limited by guarantee which could be set up in the future with the aim of implementing Our Neighbourhood Plan); Durham University; the Cathedral Dean and Chapter; Durham BID (The Durham Business Improvement District Committee); the Chamber of Trade; the North East England Chamber of Commerce; businesses in the City; housing associations; the County Durham Cultural Partnership; Visit County Durham; The Empty Shop; Durham Wildlife Trust; Transition Durham; the Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust; residents groups; community, amenity, interest and lobby groups; friends associations; local charities; religious organisations; the Students Union; the public.
A1: A CITY WITH A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE – PROJECTS
Project 1: Durham Sustainable City. An annual report on the (ultimately) adopted social, environmental and economic realm projects to establish the extent to which the City is moving towards or away from a sustainable future with recommendations. All major building projects and in particular public sector schemes including the University, Primary Care Trust and the County Council must demonstrate best practice in construction and use.
Project 2: Clean Air Zone. The declaration of a Durham City Centre Clean Air Zone with formal monitoring and reporting procedures
A2: A BEAUTIFUL AND HISTORIC CITY – PROJECTS
Project 3: Interpretation/Visitor Centre. Set up an initiative to provide this essential community facility to provide an imaginative exploration of the unique Story of Durham.
Project 4: Clean Durham Forum. A forum of to seek ways of achieving a cleaner public realm including innovation in waste collection, street cleaning and litter control.
Project 5: ‘To Let’ Sign Control. Stricter control and enforcement of regulations on outdoor advertising and in particular ‘To Let’ and ‘Have Let’ boards. The prospective Article 7 (Planning) Direction should be extended to cover the whole of Our Neighbourhood to control ‘To Let’ and ‘Have Let’ boards.
Project 6: Designation, Protection and Enhancement of Community Assets. Comprehensive review of status, management and use of all open space including cemeteries, sites with wildlife, allotments, sports fields, the Green Belt, individual trees and groups of trees, and of buildings with heritage value, with a view to enhanced designation and management. Consideration should be given to the designation and management of the County Council land at County Hall as an extension of Wharton Park. Modern buildings, structures and artworks of aesthetic, visual and architectural interest whose appearance, character and cultural value contribute to the future heritage of Our Neighbourhood should be listed as non-designated heritage assets and recommended for statutory designation. Appendix C gives a list of non-designated heritage assets in our Neighbourhood. A similar list of open spaces (both hard and green) and green assets needs to be produced.
A3: A CITY WITH A DIVERSE AND RESILIENT ECONOMY – PROJECTS
Project 7: Aykley Heads Business Park. The preparation, promotion and realisation of a master plan as an outstanding opportunity for diversification of the local economy and of sustainable economic development.
Project 8: Broadband Upgrade. Action to ensure that the City is served by fast broadband and full mobile connectivity as soon as possible and at the latest by 2018.
Project 9: Improvements to the City Centre. Actions to improve not only the vitality and diversity of the economy, but also its cultural and environmental attractiveness and well-being. Such measures could include:
- improve shop frontages including removal of illuminated signs;
- maintain the fabric of buildings, property boundaries i.e. walls and railings, and street furniture;
- upgrade the environment of the back lanes and paths;
- improve rear access to properties for servicing i.e. deliveries and waste collection;
- contribute to the promotion of a sign-posted circular shoppers’ route and the rationalising of existing signs to move shoppers around and through the City;
- improve accessibility to all users, particularly older people, people with disabilities, and people with young children;
- use empty shops temporarily by start-up businesses for two years under permitted development rights;
- contribute to a community hub incorporating a crèche where shoppers can leave children;
- designate parking bays which provide free disc parking for a maximum stay of an hour to allow for brief shopping trips and the collection of click and collect items;
- offer flexible use of private car parking to enable public use at specified times.
Project 10: City Centre Retail Revival Action Plan. New initiatives to attract shoppers and repeat visits through more events such as the biennial Lumière, the annual Book Festival and the Christmas market and to rebalance the daytime and evening economies by a measure such as ‘Live after Five’ where attractions remain open into the early evening.
Project 11: Shop Front Improvement Grant Scheme. Publish a shop front guide and introduce a grant scheme to encourage improvement of both primary and secondary shopfronts.
Project 12: Places in Durham. Action to achieve enhancement and good management of important places and spaces in Durham including Millennium Place, the Market Place, Reform Place and Fowler’s Yard, to achieve the fulfilment of their potential.
Project 13: North Road Regeneration. Ongoing work requires the comprehensive redevelopment of key sites which include the post war shops and offices and the bus station. The bus station should be redeveloped on its existing site, including the demolition of the existing frontage shops and provision of café, toilets and public transport information and services.
Project 14: Visitors and Tourists. Actions to provide new and improved facilities for visitors and tourists which would enhance the experience, lengthen the stay, help secure the future of the City as a tourist destination, and increase prosperity deriving from tourism expenditure. Such measures could include:
- improve welcoming facilities including new digital displays for visitors and tourists at ‘gateways’ to the City including the coach park and Millennium Place, bus station, and park and ride terminals; or
- provide new visitor accommodation including a new hotel at Old Shire Hall, and extensions to existing accommodation; or
- set up a heritage/leisure/arts trail which relates to the ‘Emerald Network’ of riverside and countryside attractions and the World Heritage Sites, incorporating new signage and interactive interpretation boards; or
- maintain community open space and identify potential sites which can be used to stage events, e.g. events organised by Durham BID, Christmas market and the Book Festival; or
- improve coordination with other tourist and visitor attractions in County Durham including transport connections; or
- provide new and improved public conveniences; or
- promote information about the City through smart phones, tablets and other electronic devices, in association with the proposed ‘Information Hub’.
A4: A CITY WITH ATTRACTIVE AND AFFORDABLE PLACES TO LIVE – PROJECTS
Project 15: Article 4 (Planning) Direction. The extension of the Article 4 Direction to cover the rest of Our Neighbourhood in anticipation of widening pressure for HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) resulting from the growth of demand for student accommodation.
A5: A CITY WITH A MODERN AND SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE – PROJECTS
Project 16: Public Transport Integration. Seek cooperation by operators towards greater integration of services in the City and the early introduction of electric or hybrid buses. Improvements could include flexible ticketing allowing use of multiple operators, and extension of routes across the city centre to provide through journey opportunities especially to major employment and educational sites.
Project 17: Walking and Cycling Durham. Funding of a rolling programme of physical improvements and other measures to achieve greater shift to active transport modes and reduction of traffic conflicts. The programme should be developed via annual consultation and publication of progress reports including network audits, and should take into account the findings from the Forum’s public engagement summarised in Maps 10 and 11.
Project 18: Rights of Way Durham. Registration of rights of way that are not currently registered (unrecorded footpaths and bridleways created before 1949 need to be recorded before 2026).
Project 19: Car Parking Provision. Review of existing city centre car parking arrangements to favour short term parking in recognition of changes in demand including development of ‘Click and Collect’ services. Consideration is needed of the potential for additional Park and Ride sites on the south-west and south-east sides of the City, and extension of services into the evenings.
Project 20: Rail Service Enhancement. Working with Transport for the North, NECA and Nexus to improve early morning and late evening rail services, local services to Chester-le-Street, and to seek provision of rail connections to destinations such as Washington, Sunderland and Teesside.
Project 21: Taxi Service Modernisation. Upgrading of taxi ranks, introduction of emission controls on standing and idling of taxis in the City centre, and the limitation of use to electric and hybrid vehicles by 2023.
A6 A CITY WITH AN ENRICHED COMMUNITY LIFE – PROJECTS
Project 22: Local Sustainable Food. Implementation of the principles of healthier food availability and local sustainable food production through support for local initiatives including Transition Durham.
Next section: Appendix B: Description of the Character Areas in the Durham City Conservation Area