By Ryan Gould
Following the deaths of three Durham students in less than 18 months, work is set to begin in August to improve riverbank safety along an area of the River Wear that has been identified as a “high-risk” site.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) identified areas of the riverbank between Framwellgate Bridge and Prebends Bridge as “high-risk” in an independent report released to the public in April. The body of 19-year-old Law undergraduate, Euan Coulthard, was found near this area in January.
Footpaths along these stretches of the river are set to close from 24th August for up to six weeks to allow work to be carried out, which includes the resurfacing of a 200-metre stretch of footpath and the installation of new railings to join existing railings together.
New fencing will also be installed on top of the existing wall along Fearan’s Walk.
While work is carried out, Durham County Council are advising pedestrians to use South Street or Sadler Street to get to their destinations.
It is hoped that these initial works will be completed before the start of the new University term, with Freshers Week beginning on 5th October.
Chair of the City Safety Group, Terry Collins, who is overseeing the improvements, said: “The work programme is progressing really well and I am confident that everyone who uses these paths will see that the improvements have been undertaken in line with the history and heritage of the locations and with their conservation status in mind.
“To protect the public and the workforce two sections of the riverside footpath will need to be closed whilst the resurfacing and railings work is carried out. I would like to thank all those who have taken the time to support the group’s work and to ask for this to continue as we complete this important stage.
“The paths will only be closed whilst work is undertaken so both paths are unlikely to be closed for the entire six-week period or at the same time.”
Photograph: Durham University