PLANS to breathe new life into a North-East town have been unveiled today (MON, NOV 26) after months of consultation with local people.
The raft of measures to regenerate Darlington town centre and open up land to developers, including a proposal to build a new supermarket, comes days after a multi-million scheme to build a cinema and hotel complex in the Feethams area of the town was announced.
Darlington Borough Council has also confirmed that it will not be moving out of the town hall, at least in the medium term, following months of speculation about its future.
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Among the proposals for the town centre’s redevelopment, to be discussed by the council’s cabinet next week, are:
- Plans for a small food supermarket on the Garden Street car park, behind Northgate;
- The replacement of Northgate roundabout with a signal junction to provide better crossing facilities for pedestrians;
- Development on Commercial Street for larger unit shops to attract retailers not already in Darlington;
- An improved layout for bus stops within the town centre, although a new bus station has been ruled out;
- Improvements and investments in the town’s Covered Market; and
- The potential further pedestrianisation of the town.
A report detailing the proposals, many of which are in the early stages and are subject to funding being found, notes that the council’s priority is to create a thriving town centre, while also protecting its historic character.
Discussing the future of the town hall, the report said there was no “overriding case” in the short to medium term to release the site for development, on the grounds that it is an accessible location for the council and its staff and that land values are low at the moment.
The council has also recognised that there is concern about the current layout of bus stops in the town but said there is no suitable land available in the town for a bus station.
Council leader Bill Dixon said: “We listened to what the people said during the consultation sessions and, where possible, we have tried to take what they wanted into account. Of course you can’t please everyone all the time.
“We feel that what we have come up with is deliverable and encompasses many of the points that people made. Times are hard but the announcement about the cinema complex has proved that we have a track record in attracting investment in the town.”