PLANS to give a rundown town square a multi-million pound facelift could be about to take a step closer.

Semi derelict St John's Square, in Seaham, is scheduled to be refurbished thanks to an agreement between councils.

In January, Durham County Council agreed to invest £5.5m on upgrading the centre of the former pit community, which has already seen major improvements carried out to its promenade and harbour areas.

Construction of a multi-storey shopping development is already well under way and the town square facelift will mark another vital element in the regeneration of the town.

Four organisations including the county council, County Durham Primary Care Trust, Easington District Council and Seaham Town Council have agreed an informal partnership to help progress the project.

Now Durham County Council is proposing a more formal agreement to help speed up regeneration of the square.

A draft plan has been prepared, which envisages the demolition of the bus station, health centre, Caroline House and the former magistrates' court.

The blueprint includes the buildings being replaced with a re-development which would include a new health centre, a library and a range of office accommodation for Durham County, Easington District and Seaham Town councils.

The proposal also includes the construction of a residential development.

But in order to firm up the scheme, the county council's acting director of corporate services, Lesley Davies, will call for a meeting of the authority's cabinet to draw up a more official pact.

In a report to a meeting of the cabinet to be held on Thursday, Mrs Davies says: "It is now necessary to place this informal arrangement on a more formal basis.

"Therefore, in order to strengthen the resolve of the respective potential partners to the scheme, it has been suggested that a Memorandum of Understanding be signed by each of the four involved.''

Mrs Davies said the agreement would take regeneration of the square another step nearer.

However, she points out in her report that, although it would be helpful, the memorandum would not be a legally binding document.