Help us build a better Bishop Auckland for everyone
We want to hear from residents, business owners and visitors to Bishop Auckland on seven proposed projects which will help build a better Bishop Auckland for everyone.
Thank you to all who took part in the consultation on the next Stronger Town projects. To find out more about the consultation outcomes and where we are now, please go to the bottom of this page
Bishop Auckland has secured over £50 million of government funding which will support a number of projects to develop and build a better Bishop Auckland for everyone. This includes funding from The Stronger Towns Fund and the Future High Street Fund. We are working on the design and delivery of these projects. The projects include:
- Market Place improvements
- property reuse fund
- improvements to shared pedestrian and vehicle spaces along Fore Bondgate
- a new hotel in the Market Place Hotel
- an artists' hub
- a new use for the Mechanics Institute
- improved traffic layout at Tindale Triangle
What we are consulting on
Market Place improvements
This project will create additional pedestrian space on the south side, allowing for events or additional tables and chairs for Market Place businesses. The project proposes to:
- make improvements to existing street lighting and architectural lighting of key buildings, such as the Town Hall
- installation of gobo lighting to create atmosphere for community events
- extend the pedestrian space/spill out space on southern side of Market Place to create spaces where people can walk, sit outside for refreshments or food
- create new cycle hub facilities
Property reuse fund
This fund aims to reduce the number of empty properties on the principal streets surrounding the Market Place by giving grants to businesses so they can bring them back into use. The scheme was launched in 2021 and has proved very popular. We have already begun issuing grants and are currently looking at over 20 expressions of interest. By extending the scheme, more businesses will be able to use vacant buildings within the town centre by March 2026. The project proposes to:
- support property conversions which will increase the amount of overnight accommodation for visitors to the town
- redevelop and reuse existing vacant buildings to increase space for businesses to use
- support the creation of new employment opportunities in the town centre
- aid the potential reuse of listed buildings and support for Heritage Action Zone
- increase the number of people visiting and how long they stay in the town centre
This project will renew and improve the pavement and road along Fore Bondgate, building on the improvements completed a decade ago.
It will also seek to improve the existing historic street lighting in Fore Bondgate. These improvements will provide energy savings and reduced maintenance costs. The rationalisation of space in Finkle Street will improve links between Fore Bondgate, Finkle Street and the bus station. The project proposes to:
- provide improvements to existing street lighting to reduce running costs and help towards climate emergency goals
- see the renewal of shared public spaces for pedestrians and vehicles along Fore Bondgate and Finkle Street
- update the layout of parking bays to increase the use of space in Finkle Street (including the current disabled parking bays)
- improve pedestrian arrangements and access between Fore Bondgate, Finkle Street and the bus station
- consider new access arrangements to the entrance to Fore Bondgate such as a barrier entry system, which could include traffic enforcement cameras
Market Place Hotel
It is proposed that funding is used towards redeveloping 41 Market Place (former Castle Bar and Hotel) and 42 Market Place (currently office and community space) into a 60 bedroom boutique hotel.
The Market Place Hotel project will provide a much needed quality, modern hotel in Bishop Auckland, ensuring the town has an attractive range of hotel accommodation options for overnight visitors from the new visitor attractions. The development of Bishop Auckland as a visitor destination will require a significant increase in hotel accommodation in the area to meet the growth in visitors to the town and wider southwest area.
The project proposes to:
- provide an improved accommodation offer in the town centre to support delivery of the growth of Bishop Auckland as a tourist destination with approximately 1.5million visitors over the next 10 years
- allow visitors to stay two or more days and explore the wider area around Bishop Auckland including Durham City, Durham Dales, Beamish Museum, Bowes Museum, Raby Castle, increasing the value of the County's visitor economy
- create new job opportunities in the town centre
- bring one vacant and one underused building back into use
The Auckland Project, together with partners, propose to create an artists' hub to support the ongoing cultural regeneration of Bishop Auckland. The hub will be located in a disused building in the Market Place and allow potential local involvement including:
- coordinating events and exhibitions
- a creative space and business support for local artists
- an exhibition space
- a forum for art and gallery businesses in the town to come together
The key focus will be the creation of an artist-led community to support the development of local artists and communities. It will provide space for creative practice, performance and an artist led programme of events, exhibitions, projects and activities.
Constructed by the Literary, Scientific and Mechanics' Institution society in 1880 as a reading rooms and recreation space, this historic building is significant both in terms of its architectural interest and its social history. The building was boarded up following a fire and has been vacant and increasingly derelict since 2007. The Heritage Action Zone identified the building as a priority project and has undertaken a condition survey, options appraisal and feasibility study to bring this building back into economic use.
It is proposed to bring the building back into use to provide training and employment opportunities for young people. Local community groups have expressed an interest in the building and we would work with a building preservation trust that could restore the building. A Community Interest Company would manage and maintain it. The project proposes to:
- increase training and employment opportunities for young people
- increase use of the town centre
- repair and reuse an existing vacant building
- help the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone have the building removed from the 'Heritage at Risk' list of buildings
The Tindale Triangle Project will make improvements to the road layout to reduce traffic delays and provide a separation of vehicles and cyclists to increase safety.
Looking forward, the expected increase in traffic linked to both visitor attractions and the retail and leisure facilities across the wider Tindale Crescent development means improvements are needed to the key junctions to ensure both local and visitor traffic can flow effectively. While our plans for junction improvement have been under development, the Auckland Retail Park scheme has begun to prepare to move into the construction phase providing the opportunity to provide additional large retail units and leisure facilities beyond those which can be accommodated in the town centre. This development provides the opportunity to create an additional 450 retail and leisure-based jobs, alongside the junction improvement works.
The Tindale Triangle project will:
- see improvements to three key junctions to the south of the town
- provide support to secure the delivery of the new retail and leisure facilities and the associated new jobs
Have your say
The closing date for comments was 11.59pm on 21 November 2022.
What's the latest
Six drop in sessions were held at the Auckland Project's Consultation unit at number 43 Newgate Street along with an early evening drop in session at Bishop Auckland Town Hall. Information banners and leaflets were also available at the Town Hall, Town Council offices and the Newgate centre to supplement the drop-in sessions and online surveys.
Over 100 people engaged in face to face discussions with further online questionnaires completed. 178 formal responses were logged.
Over 75% of responses indicated support or strong support for the projects we proposed, the changes to the delivery programme and that they agree the projects were in line with the long term plans we have previously discussed.
- Over 60% of respondents felt the focus on the Market Place and North Newgate Street would strongly or very strongly meet the regeneration needs of the town centre.
- Almost 75% felt the proposed second round of the Property Reuse programme would strongly support the regeneration efforts across the town.
- 54% agreed with the proposals to improve Fore Bondgate.
- 53% felt proposals to develop a hotel in the marketplace would make a positive contribution to the regeneration plans.
- 75% felt improvements to the road junction layout at Tindale Crescent will enhance traffic and cycle movement around the area.
- 81.4% agreed or strongly agreed that the new retail and leisure development at Tindale Crescent would assist in providing new facilities and jobs for the area.
Other comments highlighted concerns over the number of vacant shops in the town centre, the lack of retail offer in the town and a desire for more regular communication over plans for improvements across the town.
Where we are now
We included feedback from this consultation into the detailed design of the schemes and into the individual project business cases we have to agree with the Government.
Business cases for all seven Stronger Town Fund projects have subsequently been submitted to Government and we've recently (July 2023) received confirmation of their approval. Projects are now either preparing for delivery or are progressing through the formal planning process where it is required.
We're continuing to develop both the Bishop Auckland regeneration website and the regular newsletters to residents and businesses to keep people informed and make information about our plans easier to access.