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Will the UK's cultural infrastructure grow post Covid-19?

Durham History Centre - proposed entrance (Ryder Architecture)

A planning application has been submitted for a new history centre in Durham designed by Ryder Architecture which would bring together archive, heritage and registration services for the county.

If approved the centre will tell the story of the county's history and heritage through historic records, photographs and objects and will also host exhibitions, activities and events and provide a countywide outreach programme for children, schools and communities.

The focus would be on the stories of working people and everyday families with people able to discover and explore the county's rich history from nationally and internationally significant collections.

In addition to the county's archives, which are currently accessed more than one million times a year, the centre would house historic registration records, historic environment and archaeology records and local studies collections.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said:

'Our plans for Durham History Centre are based on providing an opportunity for our whole community to experience, enjoy and engage with the unique heritage of County Durham and its people. Restoring and enhancing the beautiful Grade ll-listed major house and its grounds, would open up new spaces for everyone to use and enjoy and provide a secure future ofr our important heritage collections.'

The project has received significant support from the public, with a consultation in 2018 receiving more than 600 responses - 83 per cent of which were in favour of the proposal.

Respondents were keen to see the centre offering exhibitions, multi-media access to collections, talks and behind the scenes tours. There was also particularly strong support for the inclusion of the Durham Light Infantry/military collection.

Future Cities Forum will be featuring similar projects in its 'Culture and tourism post Covid-19' forum discussions and Report this summer.

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