Theme 6: A City With an Enriched Community Life


4.269 Durham City will have a proactively supported community life, including health and well-being, with an enriched artistic and cultural life for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. Residents will be supported and encouraged to be active citizens with a keen interest in their neighbourhood and how it develops.


4.270 The objectives of this theme are:

  1. To encourage and promote the provision of a range of the highest quality health, educational, artistic, cultural, social and general community facilities to meet the needs of the residents of Our Neighbourhood and visitors to it;
  2. To retain and improve existing artistic, cultural, social and community facilities within Our Neighbourhood.


4.271 Details of the social profile of Our Neighbourhood is available in Section C1 of Appendix C. Appendix D, Table D3, provides details of public and community services and facilities in Our Neighbourhood.

Cultural activities and facilities

4.272 The City has a strong cultural identity. It is rich in cultural events and festivals including Durham Book Festival, Durham Brass Festival, Durham Jazz Festival, the Durham Miners’ Gala, Durham Folk Weekend, Durham and the biennial Lumiere light festival.

4.273 Residents and visitors have access to Durham University facilities, including The Oriental Museum, Palace Green Library, with its Archaeology Museum, and other special collections. The Cathedral is used on a frequent basis throughout the year for musical events and exhibitions including those in the new Open Treasure Collections Gallery. Durham Heritage Centre and Museum is a small City museum run by volunteers

4.274 In terms of theatres the City has the Gala Theatre (with its Gala Theatre Stage School for young People), the small City Theatre in Fowler’s Yard, which is owned by Durham Dramatic Society, and the recently refurbished Assembly Rooms Theatre, owned by Durham University. The City has two cinemas (in the Gala and in The Riverwalk) and Durham Clayport Film Club, a community cinema, in Shakespeare Hall. There are plans for another cinema as a part of ongoing developments in the City.

4.275 In terms of provision for children and young people, the County Durham Cultural Education Partnership (run by Culture Bridge NE) identifies needs and collaborative initiatives “to ensure all children and young people living in County Durham are able to access opportunities to engage with cultural activity.”

4.276 Within the community there was a strong sense of loss when the DLI Museum and Art Gallery closed down. Since that time some of the DLI collection has been moved to Palace Green Library and a smaller art gallery, the Gala Gallery, has opened next to the Gala Theatre. In addition, there are small commercial gallery spaces in different locations across the City, commercial arts and craft studios at Fowler’s Yard and a small number of arts and crafts courses and hireable event spaces in local community venues (Alington House and Shakespeare Hall). The Empty Shop, a non-profit arts organization, has provided a multi-disciplinary arts venue in the City since 2010, as well as utilising other venues and public spaces temporarily to provide accessible, temporary galleries and site specific events. This includes the TESTT Space, a temporary artist studio group and contemporary gallery, situated above the Durham Bus Station.

4.277 There are many visual artists creating ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video and filmmaking. Most work from home. Only a small number have studio space and most have no ongoing commercial outlet. More detailed gaps in provision are identified in the justification for Policy C1.

4.278 Although there are various websites, advertising events within the City, there is at the present time no central facility for the sharing of information relating to all events, courses and services for residents and visitors.

4.279 Potential future developments include the re-purposing of Redhills, the headquarters of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), as a centre of education, heritage, and culture. This is dependent on the successful raising of significant financial investment, and to this end the DMA has launched ‘The Redhills Appeal’. In addition, Durham University (2017a, p.21) incudes within their Strategy for 2017- 2027 an approach which “will secure the City’s heritage assets, enhance the community cultural offer and wherever possible open up our facilities for collective use”.

Health and social care facilities

4.280 More detail about these services is available online at:

GP Practices:

4.281 There is currently only the Claypath surgery in Our Neighbourhood available to permanent residents. Most of the students are registered with the University Health Service, which is part of the Claypath and University Medical Group and has separate premises in Green Lane. With Durham University planning to expand student numbers by 5,700 over the next ten years it seems reasonable to infer that some expansion of the University Health Service will be necessary.

4.282 There is the possibility, outside Our Neighbourhood, of large housing developments on what is now Green Belt land. Were this to happen then surgeries might alter their catchment areas to accommodate these new residents, and exclude Our Neighbourhood or parts of it. However, all surgeries in and around Durham City are accepting new patients (information rechecked 20 August 2019).

4.283 There is an urgent care centre (previously known as a GP out-of-hours centre) at the University Hospital of North Durham. This is close to the A&E department.


4.284 As opposed to GPs, most of the dentists in the wider Durham area are in Our Neighbourhood, so it is reasonable to infer that they draw their clients from further afield. While not all dentists accept NHS patients, and of those that do several do not take all classes of patient, there are practices in Our Neighbourhood that are accepting all classes of NHS patients. Many dental surgeries are on upper floors and only accessible via stairs.


4.285 The University Hospital of North Durham is an NHS hospital situated towards the north of the Our Neighbourhood. It was opened in 2001 as a replacement for Dryburn Hospital. There are no private hospitals in Durham City.

4.286 The University Hospital of North Durham handles emergency trauma surgery and other major surgery and hosts specialist services in dermatology and plastic surgery, as well as treating patients from Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead. The hospital has an A&E department that is not large enough to meet current demand. There are 22 wards (including maternity and neonatal), four outpatients, and a number of other services. However patients may be treated at other local hospitals if they specialise in their condition, and similarly patients may come to The University Hospital of North Durham for its specialist services.

4.287 The County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust also provides community-based services (some covering mental health) as well as the hospital services noted above. Mental health services are also provided by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust whose main County Durham site is Lanchester Road Hospital just outside Our Neighbourhood.

4.288 The NHS is producing Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) which will result in a massive reorganisation and contraction of health services. North Durham, including Durham City, lies within the Northumberland, Tyne, Wear and North Durham STP Footprint. The effect this will have on health care services within Our Neighbourhood, and accessibility to services outside Our Neighbourhood, is currently unclear. Commissioning of health care services is carried out by two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), one for North Durham (which includes Durham City) and one for Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield. These are going to be merged into one, the County Durham CCG.

Nursing homes and residential care homes:

4.289 Statistics obtained from the website of the Care Quality Commission show that there are three nursing homes in Our Neighbourhood with a combined capacity of 207 people. There are no residential care homes, but in the nearby Newton Hall and Framwellgate Moor there are three care homes which can cater for 133 people.


4.290 This justification refers to the Community theme as a whole. Additional, specific justification for each community policy is given with the policy itself.

4.291 The Sustainable Communities Strategy for County Durham 2014-2030 (County Durham Partnership, 2014) has two aims for County Durham: (i) An altogether better place, (ii) Altogether better for people. There are five priority themes and high level objectives. The ones relevant to this theme are:

  • Altogether wealthier – delivering the cultural and tourism ambitions for the City for the benefit of the whole County via e.g. the County Durham Cultural Programme
  • Altogether better for children and young people – by realising and maximising their potential
  • Altogether healthier – enabling people to make healthy choices, and reducing health inequalities and improving health and well-being
  • Altogether safer – reducing anti-social behaviour, and protecting people from harm.

4.292 The Durham City Regeneration Masterplan (Durham County Council, 2014) has a number of implementation projects and actions for Our Neighbourhood (a subset of the Durham City area covered by the Masterplan). Ones relevant to this theme are: (i) ensuring services are in place including schools, health, and security, and (ii) setting up facilities and activities to deliver more visitors, staying longer and spending more.

Planning Policies and Proposals for Land Use

4.293 The policies related to this theme are:

Next section: Policy C1: Provision of Facilities for Arts and Culture

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