The former Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum in Durham City is undergoing a significant refurbishment, sparking mixed reactions from the public. Plans include a new exhibition centre, gallery, café, and dedicated space for DLI Collection artifacts, with expectations to attract thousands of visitors annually.

The site holds sentimental value for many, with the ashes of former DLI soldiers scattered at Aykley Heads. Campaigners have criticised the council’s management of the refurbishment, calling it insensitive due to tree felling in the area.

“We were all promised that the Turf would be sensitively handled, lifted and relocated to a new Remembrance Garden, prior to any works.” said Councillor Paul Sexton, “To my absolute horror, I found around 100+ Trees felled, and the heavy plant involved has effectively trashed the Turf and the resting places of many DLI.”

Durham County Council insists that it is handling the project with care. “We know the grounds have a strong historical and personal significance to many people,” a council spokesperson said, “the topsoil from the site will be removed, preserved, and carefully re-laid in the new reflective garden area.”

Opponents argue that the renovation has deviated from the initial promise of fully reopening the DLI Museum, focusing instead on a large-scale art gallery and café. They call it a “vanity project” and accuse the council of misusing public funds.

The council maintains that the new venue will honour the DLI’s legacy, with a dedicated DLI collection display alongside spaces for temporary exhibitions. Supporters believe this revitalisation will provide economic benefits and attract a wider range of visitors.