PROPOSALS to turn Durham Miners Hall into "a vibrant centre of culture" has been given the green light by council leaders.

The hall, which is more commonly known as Redhills, was approved by the Executive of Durham County Council today and now paves the way for the Grade II listed building to be transformed into a facility for culture, heritage and education for the Durham coalfield area and beyond.

Dating back to 1916, Redhills has become the purpose-built headquarters of the Durham Miners Association (DMA) and gained approval from council officials after meeting a series of conditions to ensure the heritage of the hall is protected and that the development is sympathetic to the local environment.

READ MORE Durham Miners Hall to undergo vital renovations after festive concert

Work is due to start on the hall site in early 2022 and follows the news earlier this year that the scheme had secured £4.5 million worth of grant funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The overall cost of the project will be £7.25 million, with Durham County Council also providing £1.1m along with funding from trade unions and community supporters.

While work is ongoing, Redhills will be closed for events and members of the public, and the venue is expected to reopen in Spring 2023 when the renovations have taken place.

The Northern Echo: The current outside view of the Grade II listed building that dates back to 1916.The current outside view of the Grade II listed building that dates back to 1916.

Robert Dibden, associate director at the Newcastle office of Lichfields, who secured planning permission and listed building consent on behalf of DMA, said the project will provide welcome community facilities and help safeguard Durham’s important industrial legacy.

According to Mr Dibden, these restoration plans are "integral to the long-term sustainability of the building".

He said: “We have worked closely with the Durham Miners’ Association and Durham County Council, together with their professional teams, to deliver this project.

"As planners, we want to see the creation of exciting and rewarding projects that will leave a long-lasting legacy.

“Restoration work will undoubtedly play a role in unlocking a new chapter for this important building and securing its place as an interesting, viable and attractive heritage hub, which will be enjoyed by millions of visitors from across the world for years to come.”

The Northern Echo: The interior of the Durham Miners Hall.The interior of the Durham Miners Hall.

At the heart of Redhills is The Pitman’s Parliament, the seat of the DMA democracy that shaped the lives of the people of County Durham for generations.

In its heyday, elected delegates from across the county met at Redhills and created a pioneering social system, providing medical care, libraries, welfare halls, retirement homes and sports grounds before the introduction of the welfare state.

Over the years, Redhills has been recognised by Historic England within the 100 ‘irreplaceable’ places in the history of the country, alongside the Palace of Westminster.

READ MORE Durham Miners Association hands Redhills to public charity

Ross Forbes, programme director at Redhills, added: “We are delighted to have obtained planning permission and listed building consent for the refurbishment and renewal of Redhills.

"It is so much more than just a building, and Lichfields understood this. They were able to convey the story of Redhills and the values of the DMA through the planning process.

"The renewed Redhills will use cutting-edge audio-visual technology to bring to life the rich history of the DMA, the people and the communities of the Durham coalfield."

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