Cash boost of £1.6million to return Seaham's Church Street to former glory welcomed
A £1.6million lottery windfall which will restore buildings Seaham’s Church has been welcomed by shoppers looking forward to seeing returned to its former glory.
The cash has been secured by Durham County Council through the National Lottery Fund and will be used during a three-year project to regenerate the area through grants to owners or occupiers, covering the cost of repairs, reinstating traditional features and freeing up access to empty spaces on the upper floors of buildings.
It will also help reverse architectural changes deemed to have had a detrimental impact on the character of the town, while the outdoor area will be upgraded and decluttered.
Following the announcement earlier this week, the council has also confirmed further details about a section of the programme, which aims to celebrate historic features in the town centre, including the Rainton Railway Line, which will also tie in with efforts to get local people involved and improve knowledge and enjoyment of the area’s history.
The line played a large part in the development of the town, with exposed railway tracks one of the remaining features left from the rail link.
New information panels will be put in place, helping to tell the story of the route, with new paving and planting also planned.
Among those to welcome the news of the lottery cash project – which will also see businesses contribute to improvements – is David Curtis, who worked in one of the street’s traditional shops.
He said it was “brilliant,” adding: “I worked in Billy Brookes Fishmongers while at school in the evenings and weekends in the late 60s in Church Street.
“The town was buzzing then so let’s hope this project brings life back to the heart of Seaham.”
Neil Swainston added: “Great idea, should have been done when Byron Place was built.”
Chick Norris said: “Good news, we’ve known for a while cant wait to see it get started.”
Jim Tansey was also pleased to see the project had been announced and said: “Seaham as come a long way in just a few years.”
Other ideas included painting all the shutters in the street the same colour, while some remembered it being a good place to shop back in the 1960s.
But others have called for neighbouring villages to be given the same attention.
Keith Irving said: “Yet again the Seaham/Murton bias shows its face.
“What about other East Durham towns and villages such as Horden, Easington and Blackhall?
“They’ve had the guts ripped out of them and are being left to decay.”
Paul Nicholson added: “Funny how Seaham gets all the money and investment, but all the neighbouring villages that are in desperate need don't.”
Some were more sceptical about the plans.
Andrew Topping said: “It will have the nicest empty shops in the North East.”