Information about Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone projects.
Research helps to establish what is and is not significant about key buildings. It also helps to reduce/remove risk to buildings or sites by looking at future development options and possible re-use. The research may also assist in identifying listed buildings that need their description reviewing, or potentially new buildings that need listing. The research we're working on includes:
Historic Area Assessment (HAA)
The fieldwork for the Historic Area Assessment is almost complete. Doing an HAA will show where the past is found in today's landscape, explaining why it is as it is and highlighting its more significant elements.
The research team have moved onto finding additional information through searching local, regional and national archives. A first draft of the Assessment should be complete by Autumn 2020. This study provides an evidence base for future developments.
We'll choose several buildings for in-depth research, analysis and interpretation, including their history and development of the structures internally and externally. From this we can gauge the significance of each building in terms of its contribution to the town centre character area and its immediate setting. These reports will be used to inform the future management and redevelopment.
The first three buildings reports are complete:
- the Old Cooperative Building on Newgate
- the Mechanics Institute on Victoria Avenue
- 25 Newgate Street, The McIntyre Building
The reports can be downloaded from Historic England: research reports
The Economic Study was completed in Autumn 2019. It includes a review of regional and national reports to identify best practice for the regeneration of town centres. Around 30 surveys were undertaken in vacant buildings in the town, with a smaller number in the high vacancy areas in the town having a repair and redevelopment review and outline proposals drawn up. This study enabled the submission of a funding bid to Historic England for a Conservation Area Grant scheme, match funded by Durham County Council as well as contributions from building owners and tenants.
Town centre improvements
Conservation Area Grant Scheme
The Conservation Area Grant Scheme was launched in October 2019. It provides grants to property owners to carry out repairs to the external and internal fabric of buildings. The grants are currently targeted at a small number of properties in the high vacancy areas of the town. If a property is not on this list, then it may still be eligible for assistance from the Targeted Business Improvement Grant Fund. The grant scheme is aiming to fill vacant premises bringing them back into use for retail, service businesses or possibly conversion into residential space. As a result, we hope this will create new businesses, jobs and increase footfall in the town. Bringing buildings back into use will also benefit other businesses in the town.
First grant awarded
The first grant was awarded in January 2020 to Queensway Orthodontics who have purchased 10 Newgate St and have renovated this to provide treatment surgeries for orthodontic works. This business will generate footfall of 14,000 per year, create 17 jobs and 3 self-employment opportunities and bring 332sqm of space back into use.
Work to repair the water fountain at Castle Chare is now complete. The water fountain has been repaired, the footway across the site has been extended and a stone surround laid around it with the remainder of the the area covered with limestone chipping. An interpretation board has been installed telling the history of the fountain and the surrounding area.
West Mural Tower
The Tower forms part of the original defensive outer wall of the Auckland Castle complex and has been derelict for many years. In 2019 a programme of works was agreed to bring the building back into use. Work included stabilising the existing building, removing and then rebuilding some of the walls using original stone, reinstating the medieval roof using green oak and other traditional materials, recreating the first floor first and installing windows and basic services.
The project recruited volunteers who have been an integral part of the team being involved in all aspects of the project. They were involved in project meetings and undertook practical tasks including pointing and lime washing. They helped to organise five Heritage Days, sharing their unique perspective of the project.
The Tower was removed from the Historic England At Risk Register in October 2019. One project complete and now award winning when it was awarded the trophy for Craftmanship at the 30th Durham County Council Environmental Awards.
Other improvement works
- Work has been carried out along Newgate from the Market Place to Princess Street to remove concrete blocks, renew benches and street furniture to give the area a makeover.
- St Anne's Church needs repairs to its roof on the southern elevation. We are working with the church to scope the work and make applications for funding.
- We are working with King James Academy to bring two buildings back into use. A toilet block and the Kings Lodge former caretaker's residency on the South Church Road.
- Plans have been approved for the conversion of the former Beale's department store into either apartments or a hotel.
- Plans have been approved for redevelopment of the site of the former King James Lower School on South Church Road. This includes apartments behind the original façade and bungalows to the remaining land.
In partnership with
- Historic England