Decision details

Rail Heritage and 2025 Celebration

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


Report of the emerging programme, commitments and resources to deliver the Rail Heritage 2025 ambitions.


The Assistant Director, Railway Heritage and 2025 gave a PowerPoint presentation which outlined the Rail Heritage and 2025 Vision, Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) Programme; Governance and delivery arrangements and the next steps.


Details were provided on the policy and strategic context including organisational, tactical and thematic strategies and the three priority workstreams of Experience Darlington, namely, a Railway Town, a Theatre Town and a Town to Visit.  References were made to the priorities for action that will enable Darlington to improve its visitor offer for 2026 and beyond, creating significant economic benefits that will support local businesses, increase productivity and create jobs.


A Rail Heritage Board had been established to enhance collaborative working to ensure the vision, by 2026, of the Stockton and Darlington Railway being recognised as a world class heritage attraction which would boost the economic growth potential of the area.  The Heritage Action Zone Status and the HAZ Boundary were also highlighted within the presentation.


The Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage programme had been submitted to Historic England and adopted in May 2018 and covered various project management aspects including background, needs, delivery methods and the initial budget and resources.


To date, forty three projects had been identified and grouped under the four work streams of Conservation and Management, Heritage Attraction Development, Festivals and Events and cross-cutting initiatives.


The Railway Heritage Board had been established and six projects were in progress and three had been completed.  Reference was also made to the many Conservation projects that have been or were being undertaken with various organisations and bodies


Work to be completed over the next twelve month was highlighted within the presentation, together with the progress on priority actions.


Discussion ensued on available resources and it was stated that, since the formation of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, culture was high on the economic growth agenda and additional resources were available.  It was however stressed that the Council would have to match fund any resources from the Tees Valley and that other funding streams were to be accessed and applied for. 


It was confirmed that whilst there were numerous interested organisations and bodies, the Railway Heritage Board had been established to manage the core business.  The Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway were invited onto the Board as it was considered they could best represent voluntary organisations that have an interest in the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the various initiatives. 

In relation to access arrangements to the proposed Rail Heritage Quarter at North Road, it was acknowledged that the site was constrained but that this was an issue the appointment of Master Planners had been asked to address.   It was hoped that visitors would be encouraged to stay in Darlington thereby boosting the economy.


Members were advised that City of Culture 2025 was a year-long event and that, if successful, the story of the Stockton and Darlington Railway would be a big part of that event.  It was stressed that the City of Culture Bid would be submitted in 2021 and the outcome not known until 2022.


Following a question, Members were informed that Pease House was currently occupied by a fast food provider and whilst the appearance of the building needed to be improved, a feasibility study had yet to be commissioned to explore the future contribution of the building to the visitor offer.


RESOLVED (a) That the thanks of this Scrutiny Committee be extended to the Assistant Director, Railway Heritage and 2025 for his informative presentation.


(b) That this Scrutiny Committee be informed of any progress in relation to 2025.


Report author: John Anderson

Publication date: 16/01/2019

Date of decision: 25/10/2018

Decided at meeting: 25/10/2018 - Place Scrutiny Committee