A collaboration between East Durham Creates, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and East Durham College inspired a bright new mural exploring the history of Peterlee. 

“The Future of Peterlee” mural at East Durham College explores the history of Peterlee and the hopes and values of the young people who live and study in the area. The mural was painted just a year ahead of the 75th anniversary of Peterlee’s designation as a New Town.

As part of a TCPA project on art, planning and New Towns supported by the Lady Margaret Paterson Osborn Trust, we (East Durham Creates) were able to commission County Durham-based mural artist Hazel Oakes, AKA Nocciola the Drawer, to create a new work of art. To kick-start the project the TCPA ran workshops with students at East Durham College on climate change and on Peterlee’s history and future, later sharing the student’s thoughts with Peterlee Town Council.

The piece was inspired by the outputs of these sessions and further work with the Art & Design students from East Durham College and 3rd Peterlee Scouts, who expressed what mattered most to them about Peterlee’s past, present and future.

In a series of workshops, Nocciola the Drawer worked with nearly 40 young people to shape the design. The artist also returned to East Durham College to share how the process worked as a mural artist and share how she had taken their ideas and turned it into the design.

The huge mural spans an 84-foot square space on the exterior wall of East Durham College and took the artist 16 full days of work to complete. The bright colour palette, words and images were all drawn from the sessions with the young people.


The artist Hazel AKA Nocciola the Drawer said:

“It’s been amazing to work with local young people who are so full of ideas and hopes for the place they live and study in. I especially liked sharing my experience as a County Durham artist with students interested in a career in creative industries, and helping them understand what it means to take on a piece of work this big, bold and bright!”


Jess Hunt, Director of East Durham Creates said:

“The young people of our place have so many hopes for the future, things they want to see grow, change and improve and this whole project has been a fantastic opportunity for them to have their say and see it turned into a semi-permanent piece of art.”


Katy Lock, a Director at the Town and Country Planning Association said:

“From mining town to New Town, Peterlee has an extraordinary history. As it approaches its 75th anniversary, it’s time to celebrate that story and reimagine the town’s future. Young people should be at the heart of that process, and we hope that sharing these views through public art not only reflects the town’s cultural heritage but make a clear statement about an ambitious and sustainable future for the town. Peterlee is a place close to the TCPA’s heart and we are delighted to contribute to reimagining its future.”


Suzanne Duncan, Principal at East Durham College, added:

“We were delighted to be involved with this fantastic project, and it was wonderful that a number of our students were able to take part in the development of the concept. During in the painting of the mural we were already getting so many positive and complimentary comments about the artwork and now it’s completed it looks stunning and something everyone at EDC can be rightly proud of.”