RETAILERS are being invited to a special conference to help them benefit from major projects planned for their town centre.

Darlington Borough Council and Distinct Darlington – the company behind the Business Improvement District (BID) – have organised the event to help businesses capitalise on the future investment planned for Darlington.

This includes a cinema and leisure development, a multi-storey car park and the new Department for Education offices which are already under construction behind the town hall.

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John Anderson, the council’s assistant director for regeneration, said the developments will bring an extra 1,000 people into Darlington daily and existing businesses need to be ready to seize the opportunities this will present.

He added: “Town centres up and down the country are adapting to fit in with people’s changing lifestyles.

“We want Darlington to keep ahead and to do this local businesses need to be ready to make the most of the changes that are coming up.

“Over the last 18 months we have worked with businesses and residents to develop a vision; this is a chance for everyone to see what has come out of that and how they can help the town thrive.”

Alex Hirst, BID manager for Distinct Darlington, said the conference will give local businesses and residents the chance to have their say about the town centre going forward.

She added: “We’ve made a real impact in recent times with innovative events and promotions such as Darlington by the Sea, the ice rink, the Valentine’s Day ice heart give away and a whole host of other events.

“We know these have increased footfall, evident by the growth in the number of tickets sold for the ice rink this year, which was an increase of 21 per cent on the previous year.

“And now we want to build on the positive response we’ve had to date to ensure that Darlington town centre is somewhere that’s a great place to visit, shop and run a business.”

The conference will be held at the Dolphin Centre on March 27 from 5pm and will cover four main areas; the markets, planning, the digital economy and the night-time economy including entertainment and leisure.

All Darlington retailers and residents are welcome to attend and can register at