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Tighter regulation in Durham will protect cathedral sightlines

A ruling by a local government ombudsman could mean architects working in Durham will face more stringent rules on sight lines to the city's world-famous cathedral.

Durham City Council has been censured by the local government ombudsman Anne Seex for allowing an indoor football stadium to be built which obscures views of the city's world famous cathedral.

According to a report by Seex, the council was guilty of 'maladministration' and failed to consider its policies by granting the scheme planning permission.

The ruling could mean that any future developments will be placed under more scrutiny to measure the impact the scheme may have on viewing corridors to Durham Cathedral.

The stadium, which was opened by former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002, came under scrutiny after the council received a complaint from a local resident who claimed that the indoor arena blocked his view of Durham Cathedral.

In her report, Seex states that the stadium is 'highly visible from rail and road routes into the historic city of Durham'.

The report adds: 'At one point, the stadium impinges on the view of the cathedral itself from a main approach road to the city. It is also clearly visible from the main railway line.'

To compensate for the maladministration, the ombudsman has offered recommendations for an independent landscape consultant to examine the site, to see if anything may be done to reduce the visual impact of the building.

by Richard Vaughan

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