Former railway tracks will be transformed into a public area that celebrates a County Durham town’s heritage as part of the next phase in a regeneration project.
Work has begun this week on the second phase of Durham County Council’s Seaham Townscape Heritage Project, a £1.6m scheme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to enhance Seaham’s historic town centre.
The Seaham Townscape Heritage Project is part of the council’s multi-million-pound Towns and Villages strategy, which aims to enhance the vibrancy of communities across the county by investing in projects that deliver the best possible outcomes for residents and businesses.
Revitalising high streets, whilst preserving their unique heritage, not only benefits those who live and work there but will make towns and villages more appealing to visitors when lockdown restrictions are eased. This will help to boost the takings of local businesses and support the county’s economic recovery.
Beginning on Monday, 15 March, this next phase of the project will focus on the old railway tracks at South Terrace, one of the final remnants of the Rainton and Seaham Line. This line was intrinsic in the development of Seaham as a harbour and town when it opened in 1831.
The work will enhance the setting of the old line by exposing the tracks and introducing planting, a seating area, and new sympathetic paving materials.
The area will also feature new information panels to provide interesting details on the history of the line and its surrounding area.
At various consultation events during the development phase of the Seaham Townscape project, feedback from the public showed South Terrace currently has a confused identity with the current location of the ‘Brothers’ sculpture, a piece depicting three miners to celebrate the town’s mining heritage.
During these works, the Brothers sculpture will be relocated to the Clock Site to the south of North Terrace, which would give it better exposure while opening up the sightlines of the seafront.
Following their successful tender submission, Seymour Civil Engineering Contractors have been appointed to undertake the works on behalf of the council, which are estimated to take around 12 weeks to complete.
As part of the Townscape Heritage Project, business improvement grants are also available to property owners and occupiers to assist with restoration works, such as repairing and reinstating traditional features and opening currently inaccessible upper floor spaces.
Businesses who are interested in the improvement grant can contact the council’s project team on 03000 262007 or by emailing SeahamTownscapeHeritage@durham.gov.uk.
In addition to these works, the community safety team has also secured £30,751 from the AAP Neighbourhood Budgets of Cllr Kevin Shaw, Cllr Leanne Kennedy, Cllr Eddie Bell, Cllr Jennifer Bell, and Cllr Sue Morrison to install live feed CCTV cameras into the Town Centre.
This will see a multiple camera unit installed on the roundabout opposite Barclays Bank that will contain one movable and four static cameras to cover Byron Place, North Terrace, the access to the marina, and North Railway Street.
Phase two will see cameras installed in the main shopping areas of Church Street and Byron Place, together with cameras covering the popular tourist areas of North Terrace and Terrace Green.
The live feeds of the CCTV will be monitored by the CCTV control room and the movable cameras will be able to be controlled at the request of the police.
Cllr Kevin Shaw, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “This phase of the Seaham Townscape Project will enable us to take proactive steps towards improving pedestrian flow and accessibility between the most popular tourist areas of Seaham, attracting more visitors and footfall to Church Street. It will also allow us to place greater emphasis on the town’s railway heritage, helping to establish this area as a key feature of the town.
“Installing the live feed CCTV in Seaham will allow us to work collaboratively with the police in general town centre management, ensuring the safety of residents and visitors is maintained for an enjoyable town centre experience while also, in the current climate, helping us take steps to ensure the area is Covid-safe.”
For more information about the project and the works, visit http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/19357/Seaham-Townscape-Heritage-Project