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Levelling Up bids would see £117m investment across County Durham

Published June 07, 2022 3.16pm


More than £117m worth of schemes that would enhance transport, regeneration, town centres and culture are being developed across County Durham.

We are working up provisional bids to the government's Levelling Up Fund for five of our local parliamentary constituencies, following the previous success of our application to the same funding stream in respect of the sixth.

Our Cabinet is, on the back of that £20m secured for the Bishop Auckland constituency last year, being asked to support the submission of the five bids, and to us contributing £21.4m in match funding.

The meeting next Wednesday 15 June will hear how bids to Round 2 of the Levelling Up Fund can include up to three projects, with investment encouraged in three priority areas: transport; regeneration and town centres; and culture.

A report to Cabinet sets out the structure of the five bids which if successful would see a combined £117.4m of investment across County Durham.

What the bids would cover

For City of Durham, a relief road at Bowburn is proposed to tackle traffic capacity constraints, in order to bring forward the third phase of the Integra 61 scheme. The bid also includes active travel measures to enhance city centre connectivity, linking new and existing cultural attractions; and stabilisation works on the A690.

The bid for the Easington constituency is focused on Horden. The three schemes seek to enable provision of land for social housing; deliver new or enhanced community assets on brownfield land including a woodland plantation nature reserve and new community building; and enhance local streets to encourage a shift away from private car use.

The North Durham bid is made up of three schemes centred on Stanley. The first is high street regeneration - bringing buildings back to life within the town centre through the introduction of new managed workspace, public space, enhancement of the wellbeing offer at the Louisa Centre and bus station revitalisation. The second is decongestion improvements along the A693, including at the Asda roundabout and Oxhill junction, also allowing for improved public transport journey times and punctuality. The third proposes active travel measures to link North Durham Academy and High Street with residential areas, and to better connect the town to the C2C cycle route.

The bid for North West Durham incorporates schemes across the towns of Willington, Crook and Tow Law. The first envisages a range of improvements across the towns including a new community hub, improved parks, Multi Use Games Areas (MUGAs), event spaces, and a BMX track and skate park. The second involves enhancing the infrastructure at Low Willington Industrial Estate to encourage further development there, targeted improvement for the towns' high streets, directional signs and creation of public space. Scheme three proposes new and upgraded cycling and walking routes within and between the three settlements, and new electric vehicle charging infrastructure to support and encourage sustainable travel.

The bid for the Sedgefield constituency covers the town of Newton Aycliffe. The first scheme proposes repurposing land and buildings within the town centre to provide enhanced flexible amenity space, a public transport interchange, reprovision of surface level car parking and enhanced commercial buildings. Scheme two involves enhancement of active travels routes across the town linking employment locations, the town's train station, green spaces, parks and residential areas. The third scheme proposes enhancing the cultural and wellbeing offer within the town centre and providing a cultural family attraction alongside existing leisure and library services.

Recommendations

Cabinet will be asked to agree a series of recommendations including that £92m be bid for from the Fund for the five schemes, and to note that we have already pledged £11.4m in match funding. Councillors will be recommended to agree to further match funding of £10m - £5m initially and a further £5m should all bids be successful.

Cllr James Rowlandson, our Cabinet member for resources, investment and assets, said: "We are really excited to be poised to put in provisional funding bids that would result in more than £117m in investment for communities right across County Durham, on the back of the £20m we have already secured for the Bishop Auckland constituency.

"We are also delighted to be pledging more than £21m from our resources. This is proof of our commitment to investing in regeneration across our communities, and to putting in money to attract external investment.

"The proposals we have drawn up would support transport connectivity, culture, heritage and regeneration in our city, town centres and villages. They would address socio-economic needs, transport barriers and cultural ambitions in each constituency.

"Subject to Cabinet approval, we look forward to putting these bids into government and hope for successful outcomes so that we can deliver these schemes for the benefit of residents and communities."