SCHEMES to improve the centre of Durham City have been given the go ahead by councillors.

Members of Durham County Council’s cabinet approved three reports today (April 16) focussing on revitalising different aspects of the city.

At a meeting in Crook, cabinet members supported a masterplan for the city which identifies 23 hectares of employment land, room for 5,220 homes and 5,800sq metres of shopping space.

Ian Thompson, corporate director of regeneration and economic development, said a £130m investment could see a further £850m coming from the private sector.

The masteprlan focuses on three key areas, namely create a central business quarter, releasing land for homes and improving what the city can offer tourists and visitors.

Mr Thompson said the business quarter ambition could be realised by redeveloping Aykley Heads, currently home to Durham Police, as an office and residential estate thereby creating between 5,000 and 7,500 jobs.

Housing sites have also been identified at Sniperley, Sherburn Road, Merryoaks and north of the Arnison Centre, while the River Wear that carves through the city needs to be used to its 'full potential' as part of plans to boost tourism.

The masterplan also identifies the potential for shops at North Road and Claypath, relief roads to the north and west of the city, more cultural events and working with Durham University to support their projects.

As well as the masterplan, the cabinet also approved a regeneration plan for North Road, which Mr Thompson described as the main gateway to the city for visitors arriving by bus or rail.

The plan suggests turning the current bus station into a shopping complex, replacing the A690 roundabout in an effort to improve the flow of people into the city centre, and build a new bus station.

Councillor Neil Foster, cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: “If we are going to have the dreams we have got to have the means and that’s what these reports are.”

A public consultation on the North Road plans will be held at the streets Blockbusters store from noon to 6pm on Thursday and Friday, May 1 and 2, and 10am to 2pm on Saturday, May 3.