Durham Heritage Coast Partnership

  • Durham coast in 1992
    Durham coast in 1992
  • Durham coast in 2010
    Durham coast in 2010
Case Study Information
Heritage Coast status was awarded following initial Millennium Commission funded "Turning the Tide" programme between 1995 and 2001. The Heritage Coast Partnership has continued with this work over the past 15 years, restoring habitats, improving access.
South Sunderland and Durham coastline
Landscape context: 

A post industrial coast, regenerating following the closure of the coal industry. Now a dramatic coastline, noted for its nature conservation status, sitting as it does on the only coastal exposure of magnesian limestone in the UK.

Partners, organisations and stakeholders involved: 

Durham County Council, City of Sunderland, Hartlepool Borough Council, Seaham Town Council, National Trust, Natural England, Environment Agency, Durham Wildlife Trust, Northumbrian Water, Groundwork, Blackhalls, Easington Colliery Regeneration Partnership, Horden Regeneration Partnership and Ryhope Community Association.

Aims of the project/initiative: 

Heritage Coast is a non-statutory definition primarily related to landscape quality, nature conservation and public access.

The Partnership has adopted the following key objectives to guide management of the Heritage Coast:

1. To conserve, protect and enhance the natural beauty of the coast, including the terrestrial, littoral and marine flora and fauna, geological interest, and its heritage features of architectural, historical and archaeological interest.

2. To facilitate and enhance the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of the public by improving and extending opportunities for recreational, educational and tourist activities, including sport and art, that draw on, and are consistent with the conservation of its natural beauty and the protection of its heritage features.

3. To maintain, and improve the environmental health of inshore waters affecting the Heritage Coast and its beaches through appropriate works and management.

4. To take account of the needs of agriculture forestry and fishing, and the economic and social needs of the small communities on the coast, by promoting sustainable forms of social and economic development, which in themselves conserve and enhance natural beauty and heritage features.

5. To promote community participation in the stewardship of the coast, optimising the potential of social and economic regeneration initiatives that are consistent with the conservation of the natural beauty and the protection of the heritage features of the Heritage Coast.

6. To integrate fully with adjoining areas and within the region to actively promote Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

Progress so far: 
  • 250 hectares in grassland habitat reversion management
  • Management Plan 2005-2010 - Delivered
  • Updated Consultation Draft Management Plan to be published 6th October 2016
  • Total of £18.5million project funding attracted over 21 years
  • First ever UK Landscape of the Year 2010
  • Council of Europe Landscape Competition Special Mention 2011
  • Extending the influence, experience and working methods of the Heritage Coast Partnership 
Challenges and lessons learned: 

The main challenge, for a public sector led partnership, has and will continue to be securing the capacity to develop and deliver, i.e core management team/officer funding. With this in place, external funding can be accessed with a clear business case and a strategic plan.
The longevity of the partnership has come from a clear vision supported by committed partners that delivers consistent results. That and the amazing passion, energy and sheer hard work of core staff, partner officers and volunteers who all make things happen. There are also the unseen and unsung advocates who shape policy and funding decisions unprompted and unknown, all of whom ease the rocky road.

Further information
Contact name 

Niall Benson, Heritage Coast Officer

Role in project: 
Partnership lead officer
Location map: