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Brussels, 22 January 2002

Urban II programme : European Union contributes Euro 11.4 million to urban regeneration in the East Durham Coalfield, UK

Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, has announced the approval by the European Commission of a programme for urban regeneration in the Hetton and Murton area of the North East of England. This URBAN(1) Community Initiative Programme will provide over € 11.4 million from the European Union over the period 2000-2006. The European funding has attracted a further € 12.9 million in investment from the public sector and € 0.5 million from the private sector, creating total resources of € 24.8 million. Priorities will include engaging young people, empowering the coalfield community and building and sustaining economic activity.

Announcing the decision, Michel BARNIER said: "The URBAN Initiative is a creative and innovative approach to urban regeneration. These programmes have a strong "grassroots" emphasis, involving local people at all stages in the decision making process. The programme for Hetton and Murton is no exception. It mobilises a strong local partnership and I fully endorse the programme priorities of engaging young people, empowering the coalfield community and building and sustaining economic activity. I am confident that this programme will make a substantial contribution to urban regeneration in the East Durham Coalfield."

The programme area covers Hetton and Murton in the East Durham Coalfield, an area including six electoral wards(2), with a population of 34,942. Over the period 1983 to 1994, the area lost 15,000 mining jobs and now suffers from a range of social and economic problems, including an ageing population, pockets of high unemployment and under-achievement in education and skills.

The programme aims to tackle the problems with three main priorities:

  • Engaging young people. Key actions include equipping young people for the labour market and improving social cohesion in the community (Community contribution: € 3.2 million);

  • Empowering the coalfield community. Key actions include promoting community capacity and involvement (Community contribution: € 3 million);

  • Building and sustaining economic activity. Key actions include improving the area's economic competitiveness and placing local residents in employment (Community contribution: € 4.3 million).

An additional amount of € 0.9 million (Community contribution) will finance technical assistance.

As with all URBAN programmes, this programme will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the responsibility of Mr Barnier.


The aim of the URBAN Community Initiative is the "economic and social regeneration of cities and of neighbourhoods in crisis in order to promote sustainable urban development". The second round of URBAN ("URBAN II") will cover the period 2000-2006, supporting 70 deprived urban areas across the EU. Total funding from the EU alone will be € 728.3 million and this will attract at least as much again in matched funding from both public and private sectors.

The total URBAN allocation for the United Kingdom amounts to € 121.7 million. Programmes have been submitted for West Wrexham, Belfast, Bristol, Burnley, Halifax, Hetton and Murton, Normanton/Derby, Peterborough, Stockwell, Thames Gateway and Clyde Waterfront.

A particular feature of URBAN II is the development of innovative models for urban regeneration. Another feature is a strong emphasis on partnership and on involving local actors. There will also be an exchange of information and experience on sustainable urban development across the European Union.

URBAN II is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Funding is available for initiatives such as the renovation of buildings and public spaces, local employment initiatives, the improvement of education and training systems for disadvantaged groups, the development of environmentally friendly public transport systems, the introduction of more efficient energy management systems and the use of renewable energy, developing the potential created by information society technologies.

The Commission adopts programmes, which are proposed by a partnership including local and community groups. These programmes run for the whole of the period 2000-2006 and local actors are involved at all stages in this process.

Managing Authority

Managing authority is the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions. Day-to-day management of the Derby programme is delegated to:

The Government Office for the North East

Wellbar House


Newcastle upon Tyne


Phone: 0191-201 3300

Fax:   0191-202 3744

E-mail: HYPERLINK ""

Further information

More detailed information on the URBAN Community Initiative may be found in MEMO/01/301 of 25 September 2001or at the following websites:

European Commission :

Government Office for the North East:

(1) See below for a description of URBAN II.

(2) Hetton, Eppleton, Haswell, Murton East, Murton West and South Hetton.

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