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Bishop Auckland councillors support plans for Auckland Castle
COUNCILLORS have thrown their weight behind multi-million plans to redevelop Auckland Castle into a major tourist attraction.
Members of Bishop Auckland Town Council heard from Rowena Hackwood, chief executive of the castle on Tuesday night about what regeneration is going to take place.
Councillors were told that in July, the long awaited multi-million pound sale of Auckland Castle and the famous Zurbaran paintings from the Church Commissioners to philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer was completed.
Work is now under way on a masterplan for the future of the castle and its gardens in the hope of attracting at least 120,000 visitors every year.
As part of the project, a £10m grant application is expected to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in November to help pay for a lot of the much-needed work.
Ms Hackwood said: “I understand this is a town not without its problems but why can’t we eventually have people visiting Bishop Auckland and then popping to Durham for an afternoon.
“The plans for the castle are just so exciting.”
Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Councillor Charlie Kay, said: “We like to see ourselves as a key player in the regeneration of the town centre.
“We have an opportunity here to be at the forefront of tourism in County Durham.”
Councillor Sam Zair added: “These are fantastic and exciting times for Bishop Auckland. It has been a poor relation of Durham for a long time.
“It has now got the opportunity to become the biggest visitor attraction in County Durham and we must not give up on the fight.”
Councillors agreed to write a letter backing the £18m plans, to be included in the Heritage Lottery Fund application.