A NEW group aimed at improving Durham city centre will hold its first public meeting next week (Thursday, January 30).

Following public consultation last year, Durham County Council has formally recognised the Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum (NPF) and the new body will hold a public meeting in Durham Town Hall on Thursday, January 30, at 6pm.

The NPF will draw up a Neighbourhood Plan, giving it some powers over planning issues across the city centre.

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Chair Muriel Sawbridge said: “We hope the forum will provide an excellent opportunity for the people of Durham to have a say in how they want to see the city develop and we hope this meeting will be the first of many that will seek to engage local people in the Neighbourhood Plan making process.”

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said she was delighted the council had approved the formation of the NPF.

“Local communities should have a greater say in the areas in which they live and Durham City presents a unique set of challenges for the forum.

“I hope that residents of Durham will engage with the process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan and use this as an opportunity to have their say on the future direction of our city,” she added.

NPFs have been created across the country under the Localism Act 2011 and Durham’s emerged amid anger over the £200m development of the city’s Mount Oswald golf course.

The Neighbourhood Plan must agree with the council’s County Plan and will go to a local referendum.