WE’RE currently asking residents and visitors to the county for their views on plans to replace Durham Bus Station.

The current building is outdated and no longer meets the needs of travellers so, following a consultation last year, we have come up with designs for a new, modern, fit-for-purpose bus station.

The proposals would see the existing North Road building demolished and replaced with a spacious transport hub featuring a pedestrian concourse with lots of natural light, increased seating and easy-to-access route information. Toilets and baby changing facilities would be enhanced and a two-storey mezzanine area with office space introduced.

When we originally asked people what they would want from a new facility, one of the main priorities identified was improved safety and a reduced fear of crime. To address this, we are looking at installing CCTV to cover the entire concourse.

All of this would improve facilities for those who travel to and from the city by bus on a regular basis but, what we also need to consider is the importance of ensuring any facility is befitting of a city such as ours.

The bus station will be the first view of the city for many visitors so it’s important that it is a welcoming attractive space which reflects Durham as a whole and makes people want to stay and spend time here.

And it’s not just the first impression for tourists that we need to take into account. High quality transport infrastructure is vital for a prosperous economy and often a key factor taken into account by businesses when they are considering investing in an area.

With direct access to the East Coast Mainline, A1(M) and A19, our area is fantastically placed for investors wanting good transport links but it’s just as important that the facilities that support these links are of a high quality too.

That’s why our plans for the bus station form part of a wider vision to improve transport links and enhance our towns and villages across the county.

So this is your opportunity to have your say on the future of a key facility not just for the city but for the county as a whole.

The consultation runs until 10pm on Sunday, February 9. To take part, visit www.durham.gov.uk/consultation

Simon Henig is leader of Durham County Council