Seaham's Church Street to get £1.6million makeover to restore its historic buildings

Historic buildings on Seaham’s Church Street are to get the TLC they need to help restore them to their former glory.

Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 5:39 pm
Church Street as it was in 1974 in the top photo, with a photo taken in 2011 bottom left and another from 2013 bottom right.

Durham County Council has secured £1.6million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the three-year Seaham Townscape Heritage Project, which will restore and protect its rich heritage

Historic properties in Church Street will be regenerated through grants to owners or occupiers, covering repairs, reinstatement of traditional features and creating access to empty upstairs areas.

This will include reversing architectural changes which have been detrimental to the town’s character, while outside spaces will be upgraded and decluttered.

Councillor Kevin Shaw has welcomed the cash boost for Church Street.

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The council will focus on breathing new life into vacant buildings and developing and sustaining business confidence.

Councillor Kevin Shaw, cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “We are thrilled to have received this grant and are delighted at the tremendous support shown for the project by the community.

“I would like to thank everyone for being involved and helping us to shape our successful bid.

“This funding will enable us to build on our success in driving forwards the massive improvements in the heart of Seaham, by helping us to preserve and protect Church Streets historic buildings.

Church Street in Seaham pictured in November 1976.

“We also continue to work on solutions for the adjacent area which will benefit our whole community.”

David Renwick, director, England: North of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Here 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 will go towards regenerating the abundance of heritage buildings and structures within the Seaham Conservation Area to be enjoyed by the community.”

So far £370,000 has been pledged by the council, and a further £217,000 investment is expected during the project from property owners.

The project’s way was paved in summer 2018, when the council was awarded a development grant of £63,342 to prepare detailed proposals for the final submission, a review of the conservation area, an appraisal of the town’s character and a management plan.

The M&Co store in Church Street, Seaham, pictured in 2011, before the building became home to the Hat and Feathers Wetherspoons pub.

The council’s recent efforts to support the town include a new two-day food festival, which attracted a crowd of nearly 15,000 in June, and dealing with its derelict buildings.

The blue barrier, which had stood between Byron Place shopping centre and Church Street, has been removed to help improve the flow of people between the two area.