Policy C1

Policy C1: Provision for Arts and Culture

Development proposals for public art and for new facilities for arts and culture, or extensions to existing facilities, will be supported where it is demonstrated that they:

Public art

  1. enhance the area where they are to be sited.

Facilities for arts and culture

  1. improve the range of facilities in the City; and
  2. do not harm the overall viability of facilities within Our Neighbourhood; and
  3. are not detrimental to the amenity of the area; and
  4. are of a flexible design to meet the needs of diverse audiences, changing patterns of use and demands of different art forms; and
  5. offer appropriate access for all people, including those with disabilities, both to and within the building; and
  6. provide space for vehicles to unload / load equipment.

And for extensions and conversions in addition:

  1. are of a scale and materials that complements the existing building; and
  2. retain any visual, architectural or historic interest intrinsic to the original building.

4.294 Because of the importance of such facilities to community wellbeing it is particularly important that other relevant policies in the Neighbourhood Plan are adhered to, such as the use of design sympathetic to the character of the area, accessibility to users of all modes of travel including public transport, cycling and walking, and access to nearby car parking provision.


4.295 The City of Durham Local Plan (2004) has a saved policy, Q15 Art in Design, with a justification that noted that the incorporation of artistic elements into the design of buildings, spaces and landscapes can help to enhance design, creating an impression of social and cultural identity. Similarly, public art can also be an integral part of refurbishment and regeneration. It can assist in creating a sense of distinctiveness in a development particularly when local people have been involved in the process of design and selection. It can also help support the development of a viable local artistic community. As a consequence public art has become a feature of Durham City in general, including in Our Neighbourhood, and this has been well-received. This Policy will provide continued support for public art when the City of Durham Local Plan is superseded by the County Durham Local Plan.

4.296 Gaps in provision for arts and culture in Our Neighbourhood were identified in the Priority Questionnaire and associated Town Hall open events (Durham City Planning Forum, 2015), an additional arts and cultural questionnaire and the pre-submission draft consultation held in 2017 (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning forum, 2017b,c).

4.297 The responses to the priority survey included the need for:

  • a cultural heart to the City – an arts and cultural quarter
  • a City Centre art gallery,
  • a larger theatre to attract larger companies
  • a live music venue
  • a City museum
  • a central ‘information hub’ – (‘no-one knows what’s on’)
  • rooms for meetings, courses and workshops, including for arts and crafts workshops
  • opportunities for small independent shops and galleries – an issue relating to high rentals
  • support for local artists and start-up creative businesses to use empty shops
  • good leisure facilities for young people

4.298 Responses to the additional arts and culture questionnaire supported the above suggestions and also included the need for:

  • an arts ‘hub,’ (or a network model) offering performance, as well as affordable exhibition spaces, a café, workshops, studio spaces as well as spaces for people to hold meetings, to attend courses, readings and generally socialise
  • improvement to existing spaces such as Fowler’s Yard and Millennium Square
  • existing public buildings to be used to the full, such as the Town Hall and the Library
  • opportunities for children to develop creative skills
  • support for local artists, makers and creative businesses to set up start- up businesses and /or independent shops – to sell their products and build a consumer base.

In a nutshell, there is a lot of potential in the City – we just need imagination and enthusiasm to help the arts grow (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2017b, p.5)

4.299 Comments from the pre- submission consultation supported the above ideas, and additionally noted the need for:

  • affordable and accessible arts facilities
  • a modern museum for the County Regiment
  • the development of a wide range of existing buildings for arts facilities
  • the establishment of partnerships through which facilities could be identified and developed
  • a more joined up, reciprocal and shared approach, acknowledging the contribution other organisations should be making

4.300 National and local policies and strategies also promote the importance of the cultural sector. The NPPF (para. 8) recognises the importance of the planning system in creating accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its cultural well-being).

4.301 The Culture White Paper (Department of Culture, Media and Sport, 2016, p.34) states: “Greater local and national partnerships are necessary to develop the role of culture in place-making. We will require national institutions to back local vision”.

4.302 In 2014 the Arts Council England published ‘The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society.’ The report outlined a range of benefits that can be observed at individual, communal and national levels, including enriching lives, boosting local economies, impacting positively on health and wellbeing, contributing to community cohesion and improving educational outcomes.

4.303 The Town and Country Planning Association (2013, p.15) good practice guide states that planners should provide opportunities for local culture and sports planning to work with local stakeholders and the community, to secure community involvement and consultation, to make the case for culture, arts and sport provision and secure this provision, to obtain developer contributions, and to support the growth of local tourism and cultural and creative businesses.

4.304 Durham County Council’s Service Plan, Neighbourhood Services, 2016- 2019 (Durham County Council, 2016f, p.18), itemises actions to achieve the ‘Thriving Durham City’ objective for an ‘Altogether Wealthier’ Durham, including: “Identify new visual art space(s) within Durham City centre and the wider county”.

4.305 The Durham Miners’ Association has launched an ambitious fundraising drive to turn Redhills into a centre for education, practice and performance. The aspiration is for it to be the heart of a traditional and progressive cultural renaissance for the county. There are more details in ‘The Redhills Appeal’ Brochure.

4.306 Durham University’s masterplan makes the case for the provision of a significant venue for music and drama performance to raise the cultural profile of the University and City, allowing it to make a strong contribution to the arts nationwide. The facility would provide large scale performance and exhibitions spaces as well as facilities for music and drama practice and rehearsals.

Next section: Policy C2: Provision of New Community Facilities and Policy C3: Protection of an Existing Community Facility

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