A seaside town’s rich heritage will soon be enhanced following the launch of a £2.25 million regeneration project this week.
Last month, Durham County Council announced it had secured a £1.6 million grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund towards the three-year Seaham Townscape Heritage Project.
This project will build on work already being undertaken and will focus on the regeneration of targeted historic properties in the Church Street area of the town. It will see grants offered to property owners or occupiers for works to repair and reinstate traditional features, and to provide access to currently inaccessible vacant upper floor spaces. Efforts will also focus on enhancing the town’s architecture, bringing vacant empty properties back into use and developing and sustaining business confidence in the area.
On Wednesday, commercial property owners, tenants, community representatives and other interested parties attended the project’s official launch at a local business. The event provided an opportunity for people to find out more about the project and how they can get involved, including how property owners and tenants can apply for a building improvement grant.
Further information was also revealed about public spaces that will be upgraded and decluttered to enhance their appearance and make them more accessible, namely:
North Terrace/Terrace Green
- Widening of footway at North Terrace.
- Upgrading/replacement of paving.
- Re-provision of car parking around the periphery of Terrace Green.
- Creation of a focal point of the exposed historic Rainton Railway Line tracks.
- Improvements including footways, planting and new seating.
- Installation of new information panels highlighting the area’s railway history.
- Relocation of the ‘Brothers’ sculpture.
Lower Church Street
- Creation of a vibrant, creative and cultural gateway to Church Street.
- Upgrading paving and soft landscaping.
- Re-siting of the foundation stone.
- Re-instating the decorative heritage plaques.
- Removal of the brick planter.
- Installation of additional seating and restricting vehicular access.
Attendees also heard how activities and training opportunities will be provided for local people to improve the wider understanding and enjoyment of the town’s heritage.
Cllr Kevin Shaw, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for strategic housing
and assets, said: “It’s an honour to officially launch the Seaham Townscape Heritage Project, which has been made possible thanks to a generous grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. This project represents a significant investment in Seaham and has the potential to enhance the overall look and attractiveness of the town’s high street.
“The tremendous support the community has shown for the project working alongside our dedicated officers has been invaluable and I know residents are looking forward to seeing the work begin. I would like to thank everyone who has worked so very hard to help shape our successful funding bid.”
David Renwick, director for England: North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “In a year where we have heard that seaside towns across England have been neglected, we are delighted that National Lottery funding will look to buck that trend by investing in the Seaham Townscape Heritage Project. At The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are committed to investing in Heritage at Risk, and we are buoyed by the fact that our funding is going towards regenerating the abundance of heritage buildings and structures within the Seaham Conservation Area to be enjoyed by the community.”
As well as the National Lottery funding, Durham County Council has committed partnership funding totalling £370,000 to the project so far, and a further £217,000 investment is expected over the duration of the project from town centre property owners.
In summer 2018, a development grant of £63,342 was awarded from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which assisted the council in working with local stakeholders to prepare detailed proposals for the final submission. The funding was used to undertake a full review of the Seaham Conservation Area and to formally adopt a New Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan for the town.
The heritage project sits alongside the council’s approach to towns and villages regeneration, supporting and adapting to changes impacting on town centres. This includes organising a new food festival which attracted almost 15,000 people to the town and working to deal with derelict buildings in the area.