The Project Genesis Trust has been successful in gaining almost £350,000 grant funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) to create a new Heritage Trail in Consett, ‘The Consett and Genesis Heritage Trail’ which it is hoped will attract more visitors and tourists to Consett and the NW Durham area.
The new trail will link up existing footpaths between Consett town and the River Derwent, through the former steelworks site, creating 6.5Km of footpath for local people, visitors and tourists to enjoy. Giving people access to some beautiful countryside, promoting visitor spending with local businesses, providing picnic, seating areas and interpretation boards celebrating the history of the steelworks and opening up some hidden heritage assets like the old pump house on the Derwent River.
John O’Connor, the chair of the Project Genesis Trust, said ‘2019 is the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Genesis Trust and this initiative is a great way to help the Trust celebrate that event and demonstrate its importance to the local community, as well as its delivery of the regeneration of the steelworks site’.
The initiative which had massive support from community and businesses in Consett, as well as Visit Durham and the County Council will be supported by the Project Genesis Trust who will be spending a further £90,000 on the project.
This Genesis Trust project is one of several public realm projects delivered over recent years and follows the successful delivery of the new Fawcett Park in 2016. Morris Muter, the Genesis Trust’s Patron, said ‘This project is an example of the benefits Project Genesis can bring to Consett and the surrounding area. It is the first time we have received grant support for a public realm improvement, and we thank the Secretary of State at DEFRA for recognising the impact that this project can have on the local economy, and the role that Project Genesis has played in the successful regeneration and development of the steelworks site’.
One of the key’s to accessing the DEFRA grant was the work done by Visit Durham in 2017 to produce through the Derwent Valley AAP a ‘Destination Development Plan’ for Consett which identified the need to invest in projects which could encourage visitors and tourists to visit the area using the attractiveness of its surrounding countryside.
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration and Project Genesis Trustee, said: “I’m delighted that the RDPE has chosen to recognise the important role Consett can play as a visitor destination with this investment. The money will be spent on an initiative that will significantly improve facilities for local residents and visitors, which will in turn bring more money into the local economy.”
Project Genesis Trust expect to commission the work to start on the project in March with the intention of completing the works by September 2019.
The project is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.