A NEW group focussed on protecting and improving Durham city centre has begun its work.

The first meeting of the Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum (NPF) was held at Durham Town Hall on Thursday night (January 30).

Its first task will be to write a Neighbourhood Plan, which will give it some say over planning issues in the city centre.

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Chair Muriel Sawbridge said: “I am delighted that we have got to the stage of formally launching the forum.

“This is a great opportunity for local people to have a say in shaping the future development of Durham City.”

Speaking at the meeting, Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said the NPF was a huge step forward for local people to be able to get involved in putting together a plan for the area.

Jonathan Elmer, liaison coordinator between the forum and the community, said: “It is very exciting to be there at the beginning of a process that I believe will put the residents of Durham at the centre of city planning.”

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