£300,000 of funding for Bishop Auckland is open for applications in the hope of improving the town centre.

Property owners can apply to the Bishop Auckland Conservation Area Grant Scheme with the aim of bringing empty buildings back into use.

Part of the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone, the funding money can be used to refurbish and redevelop properties for business, residential or retail use.

The Bishop Auckland funding comes on the back of a survey which highlighted Fore Bondgate, Market Place to the Newgate Centre, and the area around 80 Newgate and the former Beales department store as key areas for investment.

Money is available for internal and external refurbishment work, with grants provided for up to 70 per cent of the cost of the scheme. Maximum funding is dependent on the size of the project but could range between £20,000 and £30,000.

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Jointly funded by Durham County Council and Historic England, it aims to improve the appearance of the high street but also support new businesses and create and safeguard jobs.

Architect Graeme Dodd has been appointed by the council to help with the delivery of the scheme, advising grant applicants, supporting the grant team and carrying out final inspection visits at grant aided properties.

Applicants are encouraged to provide opportunities for people to develop new or existing heritage skills within their proposed scheme and to consider how they can engage with the community, for example through site tours or displays providing information on the history and heritage of the building. To apply for a share of the £300,000 funding, email bishopaucklandhaz@durham.gov.uk

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