Peterlee

Street Map

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Peterlee is a small town built under the New Towns Act of 1946, in County Durham, England. Founded in 1948, Peterlee town originally mostly housed coal miners and their families.

Peterlee has strong economic and community ties with Sunderland and Hartlepool.

The case for Peterlee was put forth vigorously in Farewell Squalor by Easington Rural District Council Surveyor C.W. Clarke, who also proposed that the town was named after the celebrated Durham miners’ leader Peter Lee. Peterlee is unique among the new towns which came into being after the Second World War in that it was the only one requested by the people through their MP – though whether a majority of the people living in the surrounding colliery villages actually wanted it to be built is disputable. It can be argued that the building of Peterlee was at the expense of such nearby colliery villages as Shotton Colliery, Wingate, Thornley and Wheatley Hill where development was deliberately suppressed by the local council in favour of the new town. The colliery village of Horden, however, suffered more; its proximity to Peterlee saw it lose all of its major services including police and fire stations to the new town.

A deputation, mostly if not all working miners, met with the Minister of Town and Country Planning after the Second World War to put the case for a new town in the district. The minister John Silkin responded by offering a half size new town of 30,000 residents. Subsequently, they came largely from the surrounding villages in the District of Easington.

The Peterlee Development Corporation was established in 1948, under the direction of A V Williams. The original ambitious master-plan for towering blocks of flats by Berthold Lubetkin was rejected as unsuitable for the geology of the area which had been weakened by mining works and he resigned in 1950. George Grenfell Baines replaced Lubetkin and began to build quickly, resulting in buildings of poor quality construction. In a bold move Williams invited an artist Victor Pasmore to be head of the design team for the landscaping. The Apollo Pavilion was completed in 1970 at centre of the Sunny Blunts estate and was named after the Apollo Space Programme. As well as a visual focus the structure acted as a bridge across a small lake. Nikolaus Pevsner provides a glowing commentary on the interaction of the housing units and the Pavilion with the landscape; however, the structure became a meeting point for unruly locals, drug users and drinkers, and was soon defaced with graffiti. In 1982, Pasmore agreed to the connecting stairs being removed.

In 1975, Artist Placement Group had contacted new towns to set up the terms for artists to propose projects. The Development Corporation of Peterlee New Town responded and in 1976, Stuart Brisley was appointed. The project contained three distinct parts:

  • to develop an ongoing process of collecting and disseminating information under the title History Within Living Memory
  • to establish a publicly available history of the Development Corporation made in association with the Sociology Dept of the University of Durham
  • to introduce a community workshop which began in 1977

Some local residents and councillors had petitioned to have the Apollo Pavilion demolished, citing it as an eyesore. Some locals also refer to the Pavilion as ‘the Monstrosity’ and an application to have the structure listed was rejected. Late in 2008 up to July 2009, the Apollo Pavilion has been revamped, with the original features such as the murals and stairs reinstated, more than can be found on this page from the Sunderland Echo and from the Apollo Pavilion Website.

Peterlee has a town council and is part of Durham County Council.

Peterlee has seen a number of changes in the last several years, this includes a bus station and also a partial indoor conversion of the shopping centre, which was given the name Castle Dene Shopping Centre. An ASDA supermarket was built and opened in November 2001. The old ASDA supermarket which was previously a Fine Fare and a Gateway has been utilised by various retailers in 2002 including a Bingo hall and a JD Wetherspoon public house, a Wilkinson store and a Poundworld store.

Recent redevelopments include a number of new clothes shops including New Look. Retailers such as Sports Direct and Carpetright have replaced Safeway. The town also has an Argos, Boots and various shoe shops plus a couple of places serving home-made food. After the removal of the old ramp and steps, a lift and staircase were installed in the market square of the town restoring access to ASDA and various shops and services on the top level. A Gamestation shop opened in February 2007. The lower deck carpark near ASDA is used on Bank Holidays for a market. In 2009, the town centre has recently finished further development with a B&M Bargains store built on the plot that once housed Michael O’Connor; Grainger Games has also opened a store in the town centre. ASDA has recently expanded the store with the opening of a second floor that houses clothing and a cafe. A Subway (restaurant) now shares with the Post Office and recently Poundland have taken over the old Woolworths store.

Redevelopment plans within the Eden Hill area of the town are underway; Saxon Park is the name of the new housing estate built by Ben Bailey Homes. The opening of the East Durham Trust building opposite the Royal Arms Pub on Yoden Road has also been part of the redevelopment of Eden Hill.

In October 2009 it was announced that three different developers were interested in opening three new supermarkets. Tesco announced they wanted to build a Tesco Extra store on the site of the old East Durham College, this includes replacing the existing library; North Blunts Limited announced they wanted to build a Morrisons on the site of the old North Blunts School. Kenmore who are the owners of Castle Dene Shopping Centre announced they wanted to build a new supermarket, a new health centre and a new youth centre; these would be built on the site of the current health centre, the youth centre, the sorting office, Argos, Sports Direct, Walter Wall and Coral. After much campaigning from the three parties for planning permission, Durham County Council announced in June 2011 that the plans for Tesco and the new supermarket in Castle Dene were approved but Morrisons was rejected. It has not been currently announced what the new supermarket in Castle Dene will be. It has been announced that Argos, Sports Direct, Walter Wall and Coral will be relocated to another part of Castle Dene but the temporary relocations of the health centre, the youth centre and the sorting office have not been currently announced.

The two new supermarkets will bring more choice for the residents of Peterlee and the surrounding villages as ASDA is the only large supermarket in Peterlee since Safeway closed in 2005 and the nearest other supermarkets such Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are in Hartlepool.

Peterlee is served by two main roads, The A19 runs to the west of the town leading to Sunderland in the north and Teesside in the south, the A1086 runs to the east of the town leading to Easington in the north and Hartlepool to the south.

Peterlee was served by Horden Railway Station on the Durham Coast Line until it closed in 1964.

Peterlee is twinned with Nordenham, Germany.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and streetplan visuals are courtesy of Google.

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