Major steps are underway towards the multi-million pound regeneration of one of Britain’s most important ancient sites.
Four schemes totalling more than £24m will breathe new life into the centuries-old Auckland Castle and the historic market town in which it stands.
The plans will be lodged with Durham County Council before Christmas.
If approved, the projects will see the Palace of the Prince Bishops of Durham undergo the most far reaching and visionary changes for 300 years.
They will also promote the economic revival of the once-prosperous town of Bishop Auckland.
The plans include:
- The £17m restoration of the castle, which has received initial support* from theHeritage Lottery Fund (HLF), including the construction of a new museum wing telling the story of all religious faiths in Britain
- The creation of a £2.5m visitor welcome centre incorporating a visually stunning 27m tower
- The £3m transformation of a former bank in Bishop Auckland Market Square designed by the local Victorian architect George Hoskins, into a new and internationally important Spanish art gallery
- A £1.5m development to turn an adjacent derelict building into a study facility for post graduate students of the arts
Together, the proposals total £24.25m and will create new jobs and investment into the area.
Subject to planning approval, work will begin in 2015.