A BLUEPRINT has been drawn up to shape the future of a Wear Valley market town.

Wolsingham Parish Council has worked in conjunction with residents to produce a Parish Plan, which contains findings from a comprehensive survey and recommendations on how to improve the community.

It will also provide a framework for future decisions made in the town, and could attract funding and grants to Wolsingham.

Applications for projects which help address issues contained in the plan may be sympathetically viewed by organisations such as Durham County Council and the Countryside Agency.

The plan took about two years to complete, and contains seven areas. They are amenity, traffic and transport, young people's facilities, community facilities, employment, tourism and housing.

Ken Rodgers, chairman of the plan's steering committee, said: "There's a lot of positive perceptions about Wolsingham. People like living here, it's a good place to live. The intention of the plan it to make it even better.

"The first step was to determine what the issues are that people are concerned about. We had a very simple questionnaire saying what did you think the biggest three issues are, then we did another with the biggest eight or so that came out, where there was a consensus."

Mr Rodgers said that the main issues included traffic safety, car parking and transport difficulties within the parish.

He added: "I hope that in the plan we've got some ways of addressing that. The downside is that there are some significant problems to overcome which might take some time. We have got to go forward from here and use it as a tool to make Wolsingham better."

Parish council chairman John Anderson said the plan would have a big impact on future decisions made in the town.

"The parish councillors are elected by the people of Wolsingham to act for the people of Wolsingham," he said. "It gives all of the councillors a firm guide on which to base decisions, but it doesn't mean that all decisions must be dictated by the plan."

Proposals to improve traffic and transport include the possibility of more parking facilities in areas owned by the Parish Council, parking restrictions in the market place and the possibility of a shuttle within the town.

Spot fines could be handed out for dropping litter and dog fouling while new community facilities are being planned for youngsters.