RESIDENTS in Chester-le-Street are being invited to have their say on plans for the future of their town centre, including a flood alleviation scheme.

Durham County Council is seeking feedback on a draft document setting out how the town should develop over the next seven years.

The masterplan outlines how the council and its partners will work to “create a unique and distinct town centre with independent stores and traders at its heart”.

Councillor Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “The masterplan sets out a vision for Chester-le-Street in 2025, with the town centre recognised as a vibrant and well-designed place to shop and socialise.

“It will have distinctive open spaces, excellent access and be a thriving and exciting place to visit and do business.

“What we need to do now is ensure that residents share this vision and that what they want for their town is reflected in the masterplan.”

The masterplan proposes bringing more people into the town centre by widening the range of services and facilities available, improving links between the town centre and surrounding areas and encouraging new uses for development sites.

It cites a number of council initiatives, such as the proposed opening up of the culvert through the market place, as part of a flood alleviation scheme.

A planning application has now been submitted for the reopening of the watercourse and creation of urban parkland. To deliver the scheme will be necessary to relocate the existing market,

The Cong Burn which was enclosed in the 1930s following concerns over health impactions of rancid waters

There were a number of industries upstream then, which used to discharged effluent in the river. These have since disappeared and Cong Burn is now a clean watercourse that can sustain aquatic life.

The masterplan also includes a shop front improvement scheme as well as those developed by partner organisations.

The consultation on the proposals will run until Friday, August 3.

Residents can view the masterplan, talk to officers from the council and give their views on the proposals at a drop-in session from 4pm to 7pm at the Parish Centre, Church Chare, on Wednesday, July 4.