In the final part of our series focussing on issues facing Silver Street in Durham, the county council's Geoff Paul outlines what work is being done to help businesses there.

ALTHOUGH Silver Street in Durham presently has a number of boarded up shops and some buildings appear to have been neglected, work is ongoing to try to revive the fortunes of this thoroughfare which dates back to medieval times.

Geoff Paul, head of housing and development at Durham County Council, explans what the local authority is doing – and intends to do in the future – in an effort to improve the experience for shoppers.

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“Silver Street is full of history and is a vital part of both Durham City’s economy and visitor experience,” said Mr Paul.

“We are delighted to have welcomed new shops and restaurants, including some well-known operators, to Silver Street over the last few years.

“However, like many high streets across the UK, there are some empty retail units.

“To help address this, we have contacted the owners and agents of all of these units to find out their intentions for the premises and to offer advice and assistance when appropriate.

“Enhancing the vibrancy of our high streets and bringing empty properties back into use are key aims of our Towns and Villages programme.

“A lot of this work is focused around diversifying the offer and increasing footfall in town centres to help businesses to thrive.”

Mr Paul added: “From efforts to raise the county’s profile as a tourist destination, including our bid to be UK City of Culture 2025, to staging events like Lumiere that attract thousands of visitors – it’s all about promoting County Durham as a great place to live, work, visit and invest.

“We are also committed to improving transport links including through the creation of a new bus station in Durham City.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been incredibly difficult for the retail and hospitality sector and we have been working hard to support businesses through this challenging time.”

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