A NORTH-East council is going back to the drawing board with its plans to come up with a new design for a city bus station.

Durham County Council is asking for people’s views before it comes up with new designs for the station in North Road, Durham.

There have been long-running plans to try and improve the facility, which has been a target for crime and anti-social behaviour and has been criticised for providing an unwelcoming first stop for visitors to the city.

The Northern Echo:

An artists' impression of what the new station could look like

Initially the council had wanted to demolish the existing station to allow a new “flagship” store to be built, and build a brand new one on the site of Hopper House and the nearby roundabout in North Road.

But due to the financial climate, the authority has now dropped the plans in favour of knocking down the existing station and rebuilding on the same site.

Cllr Carl Marshall, the council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We want to offer visitors to our area the best possible welcome but the bus station in its current state just does not do our county justice.

“This is an opportunity to create a bright, modern new bus station, offering improved facilities for both residents and visitors on the existing site.

“Built in the 1970s, the current bus station is now past its best and as a major transport hub for the region and the county we need to develop a proposal that provides first class facilities and helps improve access to public transport.”

Wendy Lavelle, community development officer for Durham Area Action Partnership, said: “At the moment they want suggestions for what people would like to see, anything from seating and toilets to improving the visibility.”

The Northern Echo:

The bus station, pictured in 1920

It is understood possible plans could include putting in a mezzanine floor, removing shops, and having an office for police to use.

City councillor Liz Brown said: “Durham County Council are actually cutting their coat according to their cloth and are consulting with people from the ground up. This is a chance for people to have a say from the beginning.”

Plans for a new bus station first emerged in 2014, when proposals to put a modern glass building next to North Road Methodist Church were slammed by the city’s MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, with a further consultation held in 2016.

It is understood a budget of £8m has been earmarked for the project, and it is hoped it would be complete by summer 2021.

Comments can be made by emailing durhambusstation@durham.gov.uk by Thursday, March 21.