A County Durham town is a step closer to securing a major lottery boost that would help preserve and protect its heritage.

Durham County Council has received initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Seaham Townscape Heritage project. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to rediscover the historic character of Seaham.

Development funding of £78,200 has been awarded to help the council progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

As well as celebrating its past, the initiative would aim to provide an economic boost to the coastal town by working to attract more businesses and increase visitor numbers.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic development, said: “Seaham has seen many changes in recent years, with the regeneration of North Terrace and the Marina being particularly successful.

“This funding would enable us to build on that success by helping us to preserve and protect Seaham’s historic buildings, with a particular focus on the opportunities presented in Church Street.

“The council will do everything it can to help secure the full project costs from the HLF, bringing in a potential further £1.6 million from Seaham.”

The four-year project would include work to reverse previous architectural changes that have been detrimental to the town’s character, while public spaces would be upgraded and decluttered to make them more attractive and accessible.

Efforts would also focus on bringing vacant buildings back into use and developing and sustaining business confidence.

The initiative would also aim to improve public understanding of the town’s heritage and increase the number of people with skills in conservation and heritage-based construction.

A long-term plan for the management, monitoring and maintenance of Seaham’s historic buildings and other assets would also be developed.

The council is currently working on a number of initiatives to support businesses in the town and boost regeneration.

A recent engagement event saw representatives from a wide range of organisations come together to showcase the services available to new and existing enterprises.

The council is also directly supporting three new businesses establish themselves in Seaham, bringing 10 new jobs to the town.

And employers are being offered training and development opportunities through Better Working Futures, an initiative that also helps people back into work.

Meanwhile, a partnership with Homes England has already seen the relocation of Seaham High School and plans to create new housing, public open spaces and pedestrian and cycle routes are being considered.