DURHAM is thriving. The magnificent medieval City that has attracted scholars, commerce and pilgrims for 1,000 years continues to act as a draw. A gem in Northern England, home to a Russell Group University and the World Heritage Site that is Durham Cathedral and Castle, the Ccty evolves to meet the changing demands of the city user.

There is often talk of the demise of the high street as though it is going to be lost as a social entity. The internet and penchant of the modern consumer in the United Kingdom to shop online has indeed seen a contraction in the demand for a physical presence on the high street.

Be it retail or business services, access is now provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week by nearly every smart phone. As consumers, we have made a conscious decision to determine when it is convenient for us to shop, bank, renew car insurance, book a holiday or even buy a house rather, than fit it around the more traditional business hours. The high street is not disappearing though, it is simply going through a period of evolution. In Durham this evolution is palpable.

The ramifications of consumer choice mean that town and cities across the country are having to find a new identity, and develop additional reasons for people to visit them. Nowhere is this more evident in the region than in Durham.

Durham has seen an explosion of private sector investment with in-excess of £180m across two key sites alone. The first of these, The Riverwalk, has developed the offer presented by the City considerably with The ODEON Luxe providing the region with its first high profile luxury cinema, priced for the local family market.

New restaurants and retailers continue to open in the development. Just across the road, work has started in earnest to develop Milburngate, a mixed development of residential, leisure and retail units that will further increase the appeal of the city.

Durham has a strong experiential economy; one that affords the visitor a diverse mix of culture, religion, history, food, drink, performance arts and new releases to the big screen. A busy events calendar sees a number of city stakeholders deliver a variety of events throughout the course of the year. The traditional elements of a city are here in abundance too.

High street names sit alongside award winning independent businesses that call Durham home. The liquidations that have blighted some high streets has provided new names an opportunity to open their doors in Durham. Despite such an offer though, these elements are still not enough to ensure the sustainability of the city. A modern conurbation needs diversity. It requires a multifaceted offer supported by multiagency users.

The relocation of Durham County Council to the city centre, releasing additional space in Aykley Heads for further development, will only serve to ensure that the repeat patronage of the city will increase. Other stakeholders are also looking to develop their presence in the city, bringing further workers to the city who will be able to avail themselves of what the city has to offer.

As a city, Durham will not have to wait for the completion of such developments for the benefits to be realised. Construction workers will use the city from day one. The injection of confidence that the investment will make to the local economy cannot be undervalued. A glorious medieval city in a beautiful county in the north of England, Durham is thriving.