UP to 114 jobs could be lost after a charity announced possible redundancies due to the impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

Regeneration charity, The Auckland Project, in Bishop Auckland, said it is planning a significant restructure following a strategic review.

The review has concluded that The Auckland Project now needs to significantly restructure its operation to provide increased focus and reduce costs as it moves to the next phase of its development.

The leadership team is also being developed to ensure that it can support the new structure and to safeguard the long-term viability of the organisation.

Bosses at the organisation said they are beginning a consultation with all 114 staff members who are at risk of possible redundancies.

Following the announcement, Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison said: “With the Auckland Project opening the consultation on its restructure, a number of constituents are understandably concerned about the future of their jobs. It’s important to note at this stage that no decision on job cuts has been made, and won’t be made until the consultation is completed. I would definitely encourage affected employees to full engage in the consultation process to share their views.

"The Auckland Project do incredible work in regenerating and boosting Bishop Auckland, and their staff are some of the most dedicated I have met. I hope through this consultation they are able to find a future path that ensures they can continue to deliver their vision whilst protecting local jobs.”

Bishop Auckland Councillor, Sam Zair also spoke out, he said: “It’s sad news on the jobs front. Another blow also to the local economy, this will have a big impact on local businesses and Bishop Auckland town. We need to stay calm and hopefully things will level out and come good again."

The charity said that the Mining Art Gallery, Auckland Castle and Auckland Tower will also not be opening until June 2021.

David Maddan, chief executive officer said: "We have a responsibility to take decisive action now in order to protect the charity for the long term. We appreciate how difficult the impact of the redundancy consultation will be and understand that not opening our doors until 2021 will be disappointing to many people.

"It is a distressing and harsh reality, but one we must accept if we are going to protect as many jobs as possible and create a sound future for The Auckland Project.

"We remain entirely focused on our guiding principles and we want to do all we can to support the local community.

"During the closure of our visitor attractions we have continued to engage with our local community, both through our food project and by keeping the Deer Park at Auckland Castle open, which is free to enter and available for everyone to enjoy. We also plan to provide some creative and arts-based events for our local community."

The organisation is an independent charity which was established through the generosity of its founders including Jonathan Ruffer, but the review has determined that a broader strategy for the future, which is not so reliant on the founding donations, is required.

Central to this is a need to generate financial contribution from its commercial operation to invest back into charitable work.

During the closure, work around the historic castle is still continuing.

The charity said the Spanish Gallery, Faith Museum, clock tower, castle grounds and gardens will all look very different by next Spring, and said the team will be sharing progress over the coming weeks and months.

Liz Fisher, Director of Curatorial and Engagement, said: “We are fully committed to the vision we set out for The Auckland Project and the part we can play in regenerating Bishop Auckland. As challenging as this situation is, the proposed new structure will give us the foundation to develop our work in the community as we look forward to welcoming visitors back in 2021.”