County Durham History Centre plans for former Mount Oswald golf club delayed – but bosses still hope to finish work by 2023

The forthcoming History Centre, in Durham, has been delayed “due to unforeseen building work”, councillors have been told.

By Gareth Lightfoot
Monday, 4th April 2022, 11:51 am

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The “vibrant and interactive local history hub” will bring together archive, heritage and registration services.

However, delays to the project are expected to push completion beyond its originally expected date of October 2022 – although bosses for the scheme hope to have it ready by 2023.

An artist’s impression of the entrance / exterior of the proposed Durham History Centre

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Tom Gorman, the county council’s corporate scrutiny and strategy manager, said: “The History Centre has been delayed.

“That was due to unforeseen building works which were required.

“Mount Oswald, the old manor house, is a Grade II listed building so those building works will take a little longer than normal.”

Artist impression of the entrance to the future Durham History Centre.

A council report stated: “Due to unforeseen issues to the listed building which involved additional works on the stonework and roof, the History Centre has been delayed.

“This will extend the construction programme beyond the original completion date of October 2022.

“New timescales are currently being reviewed.”

Alison Clark, the local authority’s head of culture, sport and tourism, said it was “not unusual” for “unforeseen works to arise” when renovating historic buildings.

The ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been blamed for a depression in County Durham’s tourism sector, which has been lower than expected booking rates.

Gorman added: “That might be a reticence of people to book up early, we think, so it’s something we’ll have to keep an eye out for.

“[A Visit County Durham survey] also reports on recruitment and supply chain issues, and some businesses are reporting a lack of demand.

“But I think it’s a cautious picture from that survey. There’s some good points and there’s some bad points.”

However, Gorman, who described himself as an “eternal optimist”, could also point to positive news, such as 180,000 visitors attracted by the Lumiere festival.

He added: “I think it could have a beneficial effect in that people may not have as much money to spend on foreign holidays and may be seeking to travel within the country.

“I think if we were to win the City of Culture bid, that would certainly be something that would increase the attractiveness of County Durham to people within the UK.”

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