Situated to the east of the county and on the East Coast, the East Durham AAP stretches from Seaham in the north to Blackhall Colliery in the south. The AAP is centred on Peterlee and is bordered by Hartlepool to the south, Sunderland to the north and by the other AAPs of Durham, East Durham Rural.
Over half of East Durham’s population of 93,700 live in areas designated as ‘urban’ in nature. Covering an area of over 14,200 hectares (55.1 sq. miles), the AAP has a population density of 6.6 (people/hectare), which is nearly three times that of the county (2.4).
East Durham AAP occupies a strategic location between the North East’s two city regions, the A19 trunk road forms the main route through the area linking it to the conurbations of Tyne & Wear in the north and Tees Valley in the south.
The area comprises a mixture of urban and rural areas in the heart of the former coalfield. There are two main towns, Peterlee and Seaham, with a population of around 17,700 and 12,000 respectively. There are also a number of large former colliery and smaller, more traditional villages, in scenic rural settings. The 11 miles of largely undeveloped coastline consist of distinct headlands and bays, with sandy beaches to the north of Seaham and at Crimdon in the south.
Since the 1970s the area has witnessed a period of major economic restructuring with the decline of coal mining. Easington’s last colliery closed in 1993 but also textiles, manufacturing and heavy engineering have all experienced a decline. According to the 1981 Census 53% of all males jobs in East Durham were in coal mining. These pit closures devastated the local community in terms of unemployment and the loss of the social fabric that had held the community together for over one hundred years.
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