The new Revive and Thrive advisor for County Durham, Wendy Benson, has secured joint membership for the 12 major retail centres across its county.
Durham County Council has been supporting a long-term programme of interventions for its major centres across the county, making investment to increase the number and
quality of retail businesses through encouraging the growth of local retailers, and improvements to infrastructure, in turn improving the economic viability and competitiveness of the centres.
Since becoming a Unitary Authority in 2009, a wide range of projects have been developed and delivered, along with the development and adoption of a suite of Masterplans that have helped to focus this intervention.
The Masterplans reflect the vast range of activities that ensure a whole town approach to regeneration. Projects include town centre streetscape and highways infrastructure improvements, education facilities and health and social wellbeing provision. They also identify the development of new businesses, housing development and new community facilities.
The council’s proactive approach also led it to support the business community establishing a Business Improvement District for Durham City. Durham BID represents hundreds of businesses across the city with an objective of developing an increase in the repeat patronage of the city. The BID communicates directly with businesses and is in contact with thousands of employees on a monthly basis.
The investment in the 12 centres sits within the context of a much wider level of investment and development across the county to raise the profile of County Durham both economically and culturally.
The Council supports the continuing programme of investment in Bishop Auckland, which amongst other improvements has seen the first year of performances of Kynren – an epic tale of England, which will return in the summer of 2017. This spectacular open-air performance event drew over 100,000 audience members in the first season, and highlighted the passion and commitment of local people who made up the 2000-strong volunteer cast, crew and event staff.
Lumiere – the UK’s largest light festival returns to Durham City for its fifth year in November. This headline event transforms the world heritage site and the urban landscape of Durham City with installations by local and international artists, drawing over 200,000 visitors, bringing £9.6m to the local economy and further shining a light on all that County Durham has to offer.
With the increasing profile of the county and the positive impact of investment visible across the centres, the Council is aware that there are always areas of need and is constantly looking at new and improved ways of working and best practice from other areas. The Council offers a joined up approach to supporting the retail sector and small businesses in the town centres and Wendy and her team work collaborates with Business Durham and external agents to develop and deliver an excellent package of support.
If you are interested in joining as a town or group of towns, call 03330 124285 or email firstname.lastname@example.org