Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Historic City Looks to the Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Historic City Looks to the Future

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

A masterplan has been launched with the aim of regenerating and releasing the full potential of the centre of historic Durham City.

The plan lays out 15 themes which plot the direction of the city centre up to the year 2020.

The 2020 Vision masterplan is the result of almost three years of public consultation and is the work of a partnership which includes Durham City and County councils, Durham University, Durham Cathedral Chapter, One NorthEast and the North East Chamber of Commerce.

It seeks to add to Durham's world heritage site assets of the world's finest Norman Cathedral, one of Britain's best preserved Norman castles, and their dramatic setting on a rocky promontory.

A third major feature will be the Durham Necklace Park, which will use the River Wear, bridleways and footpaths through Durham to link the city and surrounding communities.

It aims to transform the river valley to and through the city, stringing together a series of open spaces, with the Peninsula and the Gorge as the necklace pendant and the clasp where the city centre and the river come together at Walkergate.

"The city centre has an intense concentration of listed buildings. Together with the world heritage site, these protect the city's rich heritage. It is critical that the Vision finds positive roles for all the land and buildings not currently in beneficial, intensive use," says the study.

"There can be no excuse if any part of the city centre does not have a clearly defined and positive role to play."

There are also plans to make the Botanic Gardens, which pull in 50,000 visitors a year, a much better attraction and to upgrade green spaces throughout the city which are currently uninviting.The masterplan recommends that a comprehensive lighting strategy is developed to pick out the city's charms at night instead of the current piecemeal sites.

"Each new lighting continues to be designed individually rather than as part of an overall strategy of how Durham may be revealed and enjoyed during darkness. As a result the opportunity is lost to create a memorable experience."

A walking strategy will see the needs of pedestrians take priority over traffic on routes to and within the city centre, with a new signage policy to reduce confusing clutter, which will also tell the story of the city and be part of the overall visitor experience. …

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