A "staggering" £92m levelling up bid for projects across County Durham has been approved by council leaders.

The five bids covering different areas will compete for a slice of £3.1bn in the Government's pot of money for levelling up.

They will be considered in a second round of funding, to be submitted by a deadline of July 6.

The bids cover Durham city, Easington, Stanley, Sedgefield, Willington, Crook and Tow Law.

They include a relief road at Bowburn, connections to cultural attractions and A690 stabilisation works for Durham city, land for social housing, a woodland plantation and a nature reserve in Horden, A693 improvements and a bus station revitalisation in Stanley and a family attraction in Newton Aycliffe.

Read more: County Durham projects that could be delivered after £117m funding

The bids also include high street regenerations, new community buildings, a BMX track and skate park, and transport improvements like walking and cycling routes and electric vehicle charging.

The package was outlined at a Durham County Council cabinet meeting on Wednesday (June 15).

Geoff Paul, interim director of regeneration, economy and growth, said: "That package is an ask of £92m for levelling up grant, £21m match from Durham County Council and £4m private match, giving a total spend of £117m should all five bids be successful.

"Durham has been identified as one of the areas of greatest need in the country.

"That should allow us to have some form of preference as and when bids are assessed by the Government.

"We're working hard to develop good-quality business cases for the funding submission."

He said the bids - all but one for the maximum of £20m each - were supported by MPs and came after consultation, meetings and "masterplans" which drew 1,748 responses.

Read more: New pot of levelling up cash available for bidding North East projects

Councillor Mark Wilkes, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: "When we took over last year and we had almost one bid ready, I'd never have thought we'd have got to where we are today.

"I don't think there's going to be another council in this country submitting six bids - we've already got one - of this quality.

"I'm truly staggered at just how much our officers have managed to achieve over the last 12 months."

The Northern Echo: Cllr Mark Wilkes. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.Cllr Mark Wilkes. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.

He said it would start to turn around the city: "We have a world heritage city which has underperformed for decades.

"So many of our residents feel things have been done which were simply wrong and I think we're now in a position with the joint administration getting on with improving this county, improving our city for everyone.

"And I've really got my fingers and toes crossed that we got all these bids over the line, because this county's amazing and we need to make it even better."

Councillor Elizabeth Scott, cabinet member for the economy and partnerships, said the schemes would help bring jobs, tourists, new community facilities and better services, and revive towns and villages.

She said: "As a council we are committed to investing in regeneration across our communities and supporting an inclusive economy.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Elizabeth Scott. Picture: Northern Echo.Cllr Elizabeth Scott. Picture: Northern Echo.

"These proposals draw upon our local priorities and provide an opportunity to deliver more than £117m right across the county to support transport connectivity, cultural development and regeneration in our cities, town centres and villages.

"This investment can provide a catalyst for change, helping our most deprived communities to level up and attract further external investment."

Cllr Richard Bell, cabinet member for finance, said: "This has and continues to be a significant effort and very challenging, but I'm confident that our submissions on July 6 will give us the best chances of success.

"I very much hope that we will have successful outcomes for these bid submissions so that we can deliver real benefits for our residents and communities."

Durham gained £20m in the first round of bids last year for a £30m package of projects in Bishop Auckland.


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