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Consultation on regeneration plans for iconic building

People in Bishop Auckland are being asked for their views on plans for the former King James School building at consultation sessions this month.

Funding sought to restore building

Durham County Council and the South Durham Enterprise Agency (SDEA) are working in partnership to seek Heritage Lottery funding to restore the Grade II listed building. The former school is currently in extremely poor condition since being seriously damaged by fire in 2007. The proposal aims to turn the building into an enterprise centre which will not only act as a base for new and established local businesses but also offer in-house help to make sure they can thrive.

The planned enterprise centre will offer support and advice services for start-up businesses, be used to deliver entrepreneurial education and training programmes, and host networking events. As well as being located close to the town centre, the new offices will also provide spaces specifically designed to encourage arts, crafts and food producers and feature shared facilities to reduce costs for the businesses based there.

Consultation sessions

As part of the bid, plans have now been drawn up for the building which people are invited to come and see at consultation sessions this month where they can also ask questions and provide feedback. The drop-in sessions will take place at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on:

  • Tuesday 19 May, 10am to 5pm
  • Wednesday 20 May, 10am to noon
  • Thursday 21 May, 10am to noon and 4pm to 6pm

Councillor Neil Foster, Durham County Council's Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "Our plans aim to rejuvenate this iconic building and see it used in a way that will create new jobs in the area and boost the local economy. We would love as many people in the area as possible to come along and see the plans, ask questions and let us know what they think."

Councillor Rob Yorke, chairman of the South Durham Enterprise Agency, said: "This is an exciting opportunity that we hope will restore a much loved building to not just house new and existing local businesses but offer them access to help and support that can help them thrive."

The Heritage Lottery Fund has recently introduced a Heritage Enterprise Grant for projects that save 'at risk' historic buildings and use them to improve economic growth which the partnership hopes to successfully appeal to for funding.

The SDEA is a not-for-profit agency whose focus is to create and sustain jobs in the local community. The SDEA will act as the lead applicant for the lottery funding and, if the bid is successful, manage the building and its operations once restored.


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