Residents are invited to a two day event that will lay out prospective plans to boost the coastal town’s economy.

The Seaham Townscape Heritage project aims to increase the economy of the town, working to attract more businesses and increase visitor numbers, by rediscovering the historic character of Seaham.

Following the success of Durham County Council in securing a development grant of £78,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), made possible by National Lottery players, work has now started on the second stage of application for the full grant.

The public consultation event, held by Durham County Council, will provide an opportunity to discuss and feedback on proposals that have been put together so far.

Initial plans, set out in stage one of the project, included business improvement grants to preserve the town’s historic assets, bringing vacant properties and disused floor space back into use and upgrading paving and public spaces to make them more attractive and user friendly.  The project will also provide the opportunity for people to undertake training in heritage construction and conservation. Overall it is hoped this would increase visitor numbers, progress business confidence and contribute to the long-term economic sustainability of the town.

Cllr Carl Marshall, the council’s portfolio holder for economic regeneration, said: “If successful, the project will take place over three years with a real push for business improvement along Church Street. The scheme’s focus is on preventing further loss of historic character and helping to reverse the effect of previous inappropriate changes and neglect to the town’s historic buildings. The potential works include authentic restoration and reinstatement of architectural features including traditional shopfronts, historic window joinery, roof repairs, masonry repairs, structural timber repairs, external joinery, signage and decoration.”

The project stakeholder group will be developed and formalised during this second phase and people will be able to register their interest in joining.

Cllr Carl Marshall added: “The project team really wants to involve the local community in the development of the final stage Heritage Lottery bid, and we are encouraging everyone to come along and talk to us, tell us what they want and maybe think about how they can contribute both now and in the delivery stage.”

The consultation event will be held in the beautiful St John the Evangelist Church and forms part of the national Heritage Open Days festival, celebrating Seaham’s fantastic local architecture and culture. The church is a Grade II listed building situated at the head of Church Street in the heart of Seaham Harbour, within Seaham Conservation Area.

The event will open at St John the Evangelist Church, Blandford Place, Seaham on Saturday 8 September from 10am to 1pm, and Friday 14 September from 11am to 3pm.

For more information visit: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/st-john-the-evangelist-church11