How the Market Place could look
How the Market Place could look
Richard Bell

Chester-le-Street’s Market Place set for £6m transformation under new flood prevention scheme

Work is due to start on a flood prevention scheme in Chester-le-Street, following confirmation of funding for the £6m project.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government approved £2.79m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the works, with Durham County Council having already committed up to £1.5m.

The remainder of the cash, £1.9m, will come from the Environment Agency.

The scheme will enable the council to open up a 90m stretch of the Cong Burn, which runs below the Market Place.

The authority will also look to provide an economic boost for the town by transforming the existing ‘red carpet’ area of the Market Place, where it will create a space for festivals and events.

Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We are extremely pleased to receive confirmation of the ERDF funding, particularly as it means that all funding for the project is now in place. I would like to thank everyone for all of the hard work that has already gone into this project.

“This is a very important project for the town centre. Opening up the culvert will not only help reduce the risk of flooding, it also gives us the opportunity to breathe new life into the town centre by using the water course as a focal point.”

An artist’s impression showing how the flood prevention scheme will look

He added: “Over the years the market place has seen many changes. This development will hopefully give traders new opportunities and help the area go from strength to strength.”

Chester-le-Street has a history of flooding. The town was hit particularly badly during a severe storm in June 2012.

Simon Wilson, senior advisor on the Environment Agency’s North East flood and coastal risk management team, commented: “We’ve been working closely with the council throughout to ensure we create a solution which provides the most effective flood risk protection and environmental enhancements for the town, and we’re delighted this funding announcement now means work can start on the project.

“We know how devastating it is to be flooded and hopefully this work will offer residents some peace of mind that they are better protected while also providing an area the whole community can enjoy.”

Work on the scheme will start in the coming weeks, for completion by March 2020.

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