Situated to the north east of the county, the Durham AAP stretches from Pittington, Sherburn and Ludworth in the east, to Bearpark and Witton Gilbert in the west and encompasses all of Durham City. The AAP is bordered by the City of Sunderland to the north east and by the other AAPs of Chester-le-Street & District, East Durham, East Durham Rural, Mid Durham and Spennymoor.
The Durham AAP is predominantly ‘urban’ in nature with a population of 73,700 . Covering an area of over 9,600 hectares (37.4 sq. miles), the AAP has a population density of 7.6 (people/hectare), which is three times that of the county (2.3).
The AAP comprises the City of Durham with its UNESCO World Heritage cathedral and castle, university and surrounding villages. The city is based around the River Wear which meanders through an incised valley as it flows north with steeply wooded banks on the peninsula creating a picturesque setting that is enjoyed by many thousands of visitors every year.
Main transport arteries include the A1(M) and London-Edinburgh East Coast railway with an important station and, arguably, one of the finest views in the country. The city centre has a retail heart around the historic market place and the cobbled, narrow streets add to its distinctiveness. In the Millennium Square, the Gala Theatre, Clayport Library and many restaurants/pubs have extended the cultural and night time economy. Beyond the city centre, the area is rural, being a mixture of smaller settlements, farms, woods and natural land.
Mining was very influential in the development of some villages such as Witton Gilbert, Bearpark and Sherburn. Newton Hall, to the north of the city, was once classed as the largest housing estate in Europe. Major out of town shopping centres are found at the Arnison Retail Centre in the north and Dragonville Industrial Estate to the east.