Your say on the future of Darlington Town Centre

The Darlington Debate: Have your say on the future of Darlington Town Centre

The Darlington Debate: Have your say on the future of Darlington Town Centre

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Darlington reporter

ON Thursday evening representatives of more than 60 businesses and retail outlets based in the centre of Darlington will gather to discuss the future of the town and what it offers to the public.

The Darlington town centre conference, organised by Darlington Borough Council and Distinct Darlington, will focus on a regeneration strategy for the town and what can be done to help the centre thrive.

Business owners will be asked for their views on a number of topics –planning policy, specifically around empty units; how retailers can use the internet to their benefit; the potential impact of major developments planned for Darlington and the future of the indoor and outdoor markets.

Ahead of the conference The Northern Echo wants to hear from our readers what they think about the future of Darlington and how it can grow and develop in the next 20 years.

Give your thoughts on any of the following issues by adding your comments to this article:

• What would you like to see happen to the empty units in Darlington town centre? Would you welcome residential units in place of empty shops and office blocks? What leisure, retail or business opportunities do you think are missing in Darlington?

• Do you use Darlington’s markets – indoor and outdoor? Are the markets held in the right place in the town centre and do they offer the right mix of goods and services? How could the indoor market building be developed for the modern shopper?

• How often do you visit Darlington town centre on an evening? What brings you to the town centre or keeps you away at night? Do you think the new cinema and leisure development planned for the Feethams car park will make you more likely to visit? What is a priority for you – cafes and restaurants, bars and pubs, shops or leisure facilities? Would you like to see more entertainment events in the town centre?

• Has the internet led to you shopping less in Darlington town centre? Would you use collection services in the town centre for online shopping? Does online promotion of Darlington town centre on social networks encourage you to visit the town centre?

We will publish some of the best ideas and arguments alongside our coverage of the conference, which will take place on Thursday, March 27, between 5pm and 8pm, at Central Hall, in the town centre.

Comments (20)

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2:47pm Tue 25 Mar 14

Phil Thornberry says...

• I can not understand why the council are allowing new office developments, a new cinema and hotel when there already so many unused office blocks and retail units in the town. An example is Northgate house an unused and unloved eyesore which with some thought and planning could have been used to house the Mowden hall staff, same with the new cinema all that will happen is the Odeon will close down along with KFC and that will be another eye sore, we cant keep building new and letting the old die or the town centre will be a series of disjointed ghettos.
• How often do you visit Darlington town centre on an evening? That’s a great question, I think like most families with young children we don’t go into the town after dark as it’s a unwelcoming place occupied by youths on skate board and drunks falling from one pub to another, this needs to change especially for the summer months as other towns seem to have a better mix of both people and entertainment.
• Has the internet led to you shopping less in Darlington town centre?. 100% yes and this is the main reason why the town centre has to change or die, we now tend to make use of our leisure time doing more than just shopping, maybe if there was a riverside walk to the south park we would stroll down there and take in a few shops or a meal at a family friendly restaurant like Nando`s. You have to ask why would you go into the town, charged for parking, roadworks everywhere, dodging high speed busses in disjointed pedestrianised areas & a poor mix of shops, you would be mad to actually aspire to use your leisure time to do that when there are so many better places and experiences available. Times have changed the town centre needs offer more than just shopping, the new cinema will help, but I fear that the rest of the town will be a series of empty and low brow shops and a closed boarded up hotel.
• I can not understand why the council are allowing new office developments, a new cinema and hotel when there already so many unused office blocks and retail units in the town. An example is Northgate house an unused and unloved eyesore which with some thought and planning could have been used to house the Mowden hall staff, same with the new cinema all that will happen is the Odeon will close down along with KFC and that will be another eye sore, we cant keep building new and letting the old die or the town centre will be a series of disjointed ghettos. • How often do you visit Darlington town centre on an evening? That’s a great question, I think like most families with young children we don’t go into the town after dark as it’s a unwelcoming place occupied by youths on skate board and drunks falling from one pub to another, this needs to change especially for the summer months as other towns seem to have a better mix of both people and entertainment. • Has the internet led to you shopping less in Darlington town centre?. 100% yes and this is the main reason why the town centre has to change or die, we now tend to make use of our leisure time doing more than just shopping, maybe if there was a riverside walk to the south park we would stroll down there and take in a few shops or a meal at a family friendly restaurant like Nando`s. You have to ask why would you go into the town, charged for parking, roadworks everywhere, dodging high speed busses in disjointed pedestrianised areas & a poor mix of shops, you would be mad to actually aspire to use your leisure time to do that when there are so many better places and experiences available. Times have changed the town centre needs offer more than just shopping, the new cinema will help, but I fear that the rest of the town will be a series of empty and low brow shops and a closed boarded up hotel. Phil Thornberry
  • Score: 33

4:56pm Tue 25 Mar 14

Fushia says...

I agree with much that Phil Thornberry says but also:-
The empty units in Darlington town centre would be better let at a peppercorn rent to new small businesses/ craft makers/ artists/ charities (but not, please, for more charity shops) or turned into homes. It’s better than letting them become increasingly derelict.
The indoor market is in a lovely building but could be refurbished with a better mix of stalls - can we use the old indoor market in Leeds as a role model? Darlington outside market has gone downhill over the years – now it seems to be mainly cheap clothes and tat – the Northallerton or Stockton markets are really good and popular. It was a shame the Darlington Farmers Market really didn’t work out - thank goodness for the one at Barnard Castle.
We go into Darlington town centre about once or twice a month in an evening; generally for a meal, on the way to the theatre/ Forum or to drink real ale. If we want to watch a film we’d go to The Station In Richmond or Teesside Park - the Station is much more than just a cinema. We might replace visits to Teesside Park with the new cinema development but I’d rather support the independent companies than the huge wealthy international brands.
I rarely shop in Darlington because car parking is expensive and internet shopping is so easy. I prefer Middlesbrough where I can park in the centre for free for 2 or 3 hours. An internet collection services in Darlington town centre would be pointless because of the car parking – it isn’t a free collection service when parking my car costs £1.00 – or there is no car parking and I have to queue for 20 minutes to get my parcel like at the Post Office.
I would shop more in Darlington if there was free car parking in the centre. In the evening I’d like to see more arts and other events in the town – perhaps we could have an Art Centre like in Stockton? (Oh, I forgot the Council shut it down……….).
I agree with much that Phil Thornberry says but also:- The empty units in Darlington town centre would be better let at a peppercorn rent to new small businesses/ craft makers/ artists/ charities (but not, please, for more charity shops) or turned into homes. It’s better than letting them become increasingly derelict. The indoor market is in a lovely building but could be refurbished with a better mix of stalls - can we use the old indoor market in Leeds as a role model? Darlington outside market has gone downhill over the years – now it seems to be mainly cheap clothes and tat – the Northallerton or Stockton markets are really good and popular. It was a shame the Darlington Farmers Market really didn’t work out - thank goodness for the one at Barnard Castle. We go into Darlington town centre about once or twice a month in an evening; generally for a meal, on the way to the theatre/ Forum or to drink real ale. If we want to watch a film we’d go to The Station In Richmond or Teesside Park - the Station is much more than just a cinema. We might replace visits to Teesside Park with the new cinema development but I’d rather support the independent companies than the huge wealthy international brands. I rarely shop in Darlington because car parking is expensive and internet shopping is so easy. I prefer Middlesbrough where I can park in the centre for free for 2 or 3 hours. An internet collection services in Darlington town centre would be pointless because of the car parking – it isn’t a free collection service when parking my car costs £1.00 – or there is no car parking and I have to queue for 20 minutes to get my parcel like at the Post Office. I would shop more in Darlington if there was free car parking in the centre. In the evening I’d like to see more arts and other events in the town – perhaps we could have an Art Centre like in Stockton? (Oh, I forgot the Council shut it down……….). Fushia
  • Score: 31

5:58pm Tue 25 Mar 14

loan_star says...

With regards to the roadworks, the traffic bottleneck that was Stonebridge roundabout is already running more smoothly now that the section up to Northgate is now two lanes on rush hour. And thats without any changes to the roundabout itself!!! Why spend more money there Mr Dixon?
Mind you, the only tailback I see now is the one leading up Haughton Road to the work of art known as the throughabout!! DBC planners are utterly useless so it pointless having these talk ins as they don't listen anyway!
With regards to the roadworks, the traffic bottleneck that was Stonebridge roundabout is already running more smoothly now that the section up to Northgate is now two lanes on rush hour. And thats without any changes to the roundabout itself!!! Why spend more money there Mr Dixon? Mind you, the only tailback I see now is the one leading up Haughton Road to the work of art known as the throughabout!! DBC planners are utterly useless so it pointless having these talk ins as they don't listen anyway! loan_star
  • Score: 25

10:11pm Tue 25 Mar 14

thevoiceofthevoiceless says...

Few points from me

1) absolutely parking is a huge issue and council needs to amend this strategy free parking or 2 hours or max £1 for 2 hours. And free parking after 6 for the leisure development

2) not big enough units to attract developers, oval has to happen and regeneration of the whole commercial street area. Be bold please DBC!

3) not a fan of indoor and outdoor market and personally feel these hold back other developments in order to protect these - we don't protect independent shops so why special treatment for markets - strong businesses thrive regardless

4) would love to see a more cafe, bar, dining feel to town centre we so need to encourage evening use - but need to attract higher income users too.

5) old units converted have a place for residential but needs to be right. I like the consideration for northgate house converting to apartments
Few points from me 1) absolutely parking is a huge issue and council needs to amend this strategy free parking or 2 hours or max £1 for 2 hours. And free parking after 6 for the leisure development 2) not big enough units to attract developers, oval has to happen and regeneration of the whole commercial street area. Be bold please DBC! 3) not a fan of indoor and outdoor market and personally feel these hold back other developments in order to protect these - we don't protect independent shops so why special treatment for markets - strong businesses thrive regardless 4) would love to see a more cafe, bar, dining feel to town centre we so need to encourage evening use - but need to attract higher income users too. 5) old units converted have a place for residential but needs to be right. I like the consideration for northgate house converting to apartments thevoiceofthevoiceless
  • Score: 2

10:13pm Tue 25 Mar 14

thevoiceofthevoiceless says...

6) the town centre also needs to be fully pedestrianised, need to re-route the buses elsewhere
6) the town centre also needs to be fully pedestrianised, need to re-route the buses elsewhere thevoiceofthevoiceless
  • Score: 16

11:46pm Tue 25 Mar 14

thevoiceofthevoiceless says...

Can we also do something about opening up the road from faverdale linking through to north road - we need to do something about this part of town if we are looking to develop 100 upon 100 of houses and continue to market the industrial estate - the infrastructure cannot cope!
Can we also do something about opening up the road from faverdale linking through to north road - we need to do something about this part of town if we are looking to develop 100 upon 100 of houses and continue to market the industrial estate - the infrastructure cannot cope! thevoiceofthevoiceless
  • Score: 6

2:17am Wed 26 Mar 14

grandmab says...

I love the covered market and make a point of shopping there. There used to be a better mix of stalls but council chose to charge more and most chose to go elsewhere but they are still in business. The town centre was never meant to be a pedestrian haven. It was designed for cyclists at the expense of pedestrians.We are still jammed on narrow pavements struggling to compete with bus queues, mobility scooters, prams and cyclists who still don't know how to drive on the road. After 4:00 I avoid the town centre. It is a playground for youth who dominate with their skateboards and scooters and bmx bikes. Not a safe place at night with all the drunken yobs hanging around Tesco. I would like to see more housing downtown as that will generate interest in the cafe and restaurant trade. Above all every one I speak to at the bus stop cries "Where is the bus Station". If you are not familiar with the bus routes finding your way is difficult with the stops spread out so far. I personally find it easier to get to Gilesgate in Durham than to Morton park in Darlington on the bus.I no longer drive a car it is too expensive to run. I rarely shop on the internet, I do not trust what I cannot see. This used to be a thriving town when I was a little girl. Hardly any on 'the dole' and children kept under control by their parents. I think one of these new developments should contain a bus station and we need to put in park and ride to ease congestion. All the money in the world will not correct the mistake of a ring road in the middle of town.
I love the covered market and make a point of shopping there. There used to be a better mix of stalls but council chose to charge more and most chose to go elsewhere but they are still in business. The town centre was never meant to be a pedestrian haven. It was designed for cyclists at the expense of pedestrians.We are still jammed on narrow pavements struggling to compete with bus queues, mobility scooters, prams and cyclists who still don't know how to drive on the road. After 4:00 I avoid the town centre. It is a playground for youth who dominate with their skateboards and scooters and bmx bikes. Not a safe place at night with all the drunken yobs hanging around Tesco. I would like to see more housing downtown as that will generate interest in the cafe and restaurant trade. Above all every one I speak to at the bus stop cries "Where is the bus Station". If you are not familiar with the bus routes finding your way is difficult with the stops spread out so far. I personally find it easier to get to Gilesgate in Durham than to Morton park in Darlington on the bus.I no longer drive a car it is too expensive to run. I rarely shop on the internet, I do not trust what I cannot see. This used to be a thriving town when I was a little girl. Hardly any on 'the dole' and children kept under control by their parents. I think one of these new developments should contain a bus station and we need to put in park and ride to ease congestion. All the money in the world will not correct the mistake of a ring road in the middle of town. grandmab
  • Score: 12

12:07pm Wed 26 Mar 14

Sanddancer60 says...

There is a view in other online forums, and occasionally on this site, that Darlington town centre is somehow dying. It's not dying - but it is changing. An outbreak of civic optimism would not go amiss. The key is to change for the better, to make it suitable and viable now and for the future while retaining the things that give the town centre its character. The High Row and the market square are fantastic spaces. The market hall, town clock and old town hall are a unique collection of buildings and envied by other towns. Even the street names, the -gates, rows, yards and one wynd contribute to a feeling of uniqueness, and add something to the town centre offer. The yards, if not unique, are unusual. Grange Road and Duke Street were pretty run down and neglected when I first came to Darlington, that's no longer the case as businesses with a bit of vision have embraced the periphery of the town centre. Recent work by the council and others has attracted new, small businesses into smaller, empty units. That needs to continue. The Feethams leisure development is excellent. Because of where it is, it will bring people into the town centre, rather than encouraging them to drive to some soulless retail and leisure park. The evening economy has changed too. Traditional pubs may struggle, but there are newer bars with a different outlook which do well. The restaurant selection in Darlington isn't too shoddy either. A new arts centre would be another attraction. Let it be in the centre, rather than in a residential area. Could it be inserted into an existing, empty commercial space? Have we asked? We do need to bring people back to live in the town centre. That is normal in Europe and was, once, normal here. Grange Road, Northgate, Duke Street and the grand houses on the western part of Victoria Road would all have had people living there. So let's have some radical thinking about that. Not around the town centre fringe, outside the ring road. Let's look at how we can get people living inside the ring road - among or above the shops and bars. Are commercial property landlords capable of that kind of thought? Let's challenge them. Then we might see a real change for the better in the evening economy. And let's find reasons to be cheerful about our town centre, rather than talking it down and then watching it decline.
There is a view in other online forums, and occasionally on this site, that Darlington town centre is somehow dying. It's not dying - but it is changing. An outbreak of civic optimism would not go amiss. The key is to change for the better, to make it suitable and viable now and for the future while retaining the things that give the town centre its character. The High Row and the market square are fantastic spaces. The market hall, town clock and old town hall are a unique collection of buildings and envied by other towns. Even the street names, the -gates, rows, yards and one wynd contribute to a feeling of uniqueness, and add something to the town centre offer. The yards, if not unique, are unusual. Grange Road and Duke Street were pretty run down and neglected when I first came to Darlington, that's no longer the case as businesses with a bit of vision have embraced the periphery of the town centre. Recent work by the council and others has attracted new, small businesses into smaller, empty units. That needs to continue. The Feethams leisure development is excellent. Because of where it is, it will bring people into the town centre, rather than encouraging them to drive to some soulless retail and leisure park. The evening economy has changed too. Traditional pubs may struggle, but there are newer bars with a different outlook which do well. The restaurant selection in Darlington isn't too shoddy either. A new arts centre would be another attraction. Let it be in the centre, rather than in a residential area. Could it be inserted into an existing, empty commercial space? Have we asked? We do need to bring people back to live in the town centre. That is normal in Europe and was, once, normal here. Grange Road, Northgate, Duke Street and the grand houses on the western part of Victoria Road would all have had people living there. So let's have some radical thinking about that. Not around the town centre fringe, outside the ring road. Let's look at how we can get people living inside the ring road - among or above the shops and bars. Are commercial property landlords capable of that kind of thought? Let's challenge them. Then we might see a real change for the better in the evening economy. And let's find reasons to be cheerful about our town centre, rather than talking it down and then watching it decline. Sanddancer60
  • Score: 4

12:41pm Wed 26 Mar 14

MSG says...

My comments are as foolows -

What use is a new cinema and restaurant complex to visit on a night when your village bus service has gone ? If i have to pay to park my car in the town centre, then villagers on the east side of the town will go free to Teesside park !

Busses should not go through the town centre there should be a bus rerminus.

A ten pin bowling alley would be nice .

Mowden hall staff should have been re-housed in Northgate House or lingfield point. Under no circumstances should a car park in the vicinity of the new cinema compleax have been built on.

I would like to see more events in the market place such as xmas markets, pop concerts, beer festival, youth events, sports events etc.

It should be free parking on Sundays and weekdays after 4pm to bring people into the town centre.

No more fast food outlets are required, existing bars should be encouraged to have table / cafe culture on the pavements and squares outside their premises serving an english version of Tapas etc.

Traffic wardens should walk the towns estates insted of only being seen in the town centre as part of the current borough councils perceived anti-car agenda.

The ring road system should be made more car freindly and the council should end its bus obsession, given that a lot of us have lost their bus services !
My comments are as foolows - What use is a new cinema and restaurant complex to visit on a night when your village bus service has gone ? If i have to pay to park my car in the town centre, then villagers on the east side of the town will go free to Teesside park ! Busses should not go through the town centre there should be a bus rerminus. A ten pin bowling alley would be nice . Mowden hall staff should have been re-housed in Northgate House or lingfield point. Under no circumstances should a car park in the vicinity of the new cinema compleax have been built on. I would like to see more events in the market place such as xmas markets, pop concerts, beer festival, youth events, sports events etc. It should be free parking on Sundays and weekdays after 4pm to bring people into the town centre. No more fast food outlets are required, existing bars should be encouraged to have table / cafe culture on the pavements and squares outside their premises serving an english version of Tapas etc. Traffic wardens should walk the towns estates insted of only being seen in the town centre as part of the current borough councils perceived anti-car agenda. The ring road system should be made more car freindly and the council should end its bus obsession, given that a lot of us have lost their bus services ! MSG
  • Score: 8

1:10pm Wed 26 Mar 14

Homshaw1 says...

Rents and council tax are too high. It is difficult for small independent retailers to earn a living. High parking charges and BID schemes don't help.

There are so many issues need sorting in the Town Centre. It has been allowed to get into this state by a confused council agenda of trying to use it as a cash cow while saying it is interested in promoting it. There are a whole bunch of council employees with high paying jobs whose roles are based on the Town Centre. Council tax is collected on buildings whether they are empty or occupied and it has been suggested councils should keep their Business Rates. So empty buildings are bad for the town but good for council finances.
Rents and council tax are too high. It is difficult for small independent retailers to earn a living. High parking charges and BID schemes don't help. There are so many issues need sorting in the Town Centre. It has been allowed to get into this state by a confused council agenda of trying to use it as a cash cow while saying it is interested in promoting it. There are a whole bunch of council employees with high paying jobs whose roles are based on the Town Centre. Council tax is collected on buildings whether they are empty or occupied and it has been suggested councils should keep their Business Rates. So empty buildings are bad for the town but good for council finances. Homshaw1
  • Score: 4

1:48pm Wed 26 Mar 14

roo123 says...

Actually, I dont think it is that bad, I like the fact there are still a lot of independent shops and the town has the potential to have a nice feel to it. I also dislike the naysaying and those who constantly do the town down, it has the ability to improve but pouring cold water on every suggestion made wont get us anywhere.

In terms of what I would do, I think it really comes down to ambition. Yes we need the shops and the market (if we can make it as good as the Grainger in Newcastle, that would be fantastic), but do we really pitch our sights at being a clone town with very little different to offer? If you look at the GDP figures, Darlington is one of the wealthiest areas in the North East with a far more affluent population than a lot of areas yet what do we do to cater for this and attract more? I was in Harrogate at the weekend and it was buzzing with really attractive shop fronts and, more importantly is a town that ouses self confidence, we should have that aspiration and be that confident. I accept that we will probably never have anything close to the money in Harrogate but why only have the ambition to hold our grey little position against the likes of Stockton and (lord help us) Teesside Park when we could be carving out a niche as a destination town within a huge amount to offer.

So, in terms of practical things -

I heartily agree that dodging the buses and the queues outside Waterstones etc is terrible and a bus station is sorely needed.

Put some real investment into shop frontages, make them interesting rather than painting over the cracks and the poor quality, make them something people actually want to shop in and lease. Again, I have to look at Harrogate here and just a bit of thought could deliver something really nice.

The yards could be great but are still dingy and at times dirty (especially when our night time revellers have finished with them). We could do worse than learn a few things from places like Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth. Whilst I know this is a new build and enclosed, they have managed to attract really good shops into small spaces and are pulling in shoppers. I have seen other towns where they have put glass canopies over some streets so people can keep dry and more of a cafe culture is possible - would it be a stretch of the imagination to do this over some of our yards and also light them properly so they appeal in all weathers and at night?

Have a real drive to chase absentee landlords and those just sitting on buildings rather than doing their bit. I am willing to bet a serious investment in the "Flares" building on Skinnergate and getting a lovely frontage on the place would give a real shot in the arm to that area. At the moment Skinnergate is a bit of a no mans land between Grange Road, Duke street and Post House Wynd and it shows and makes the town a bit disjointed.

Get rid of any 1970s street furniture, who wants to look at (and navigate around) planters made of pebbledashing and pre cast concrete? It looks awful and unwelcoming.

Parking could also be cheaper but it is not a deal breaker for me as you can have 3 hours free in Sainsburys or 2 hours free in Halfords and just walk a bit.
Actually, I dont think it is that bad, I like the fact there are still a lot of independent shops and the town has the potential to have a nice feel to it. I also dislike the naysaying and those who constantly do the town down, it has the ability to improve but pouring cold water on every suggestion made wont get us anywhere. In terms of what I would do, I think it really comes down to ambition. Yes we need the shops and the market (if we can make it as good as the Grainger in Newcastle, that would be fantastic), but do we really pitch our sights at being a clone town with very little different to offer? If you look at the GDP figures, Darlington is one of the wealthiest areas in the North East with a far more affluent population than a lot of areas yet what do we do to cater for this and attract more? I was in Harrogate at the weekend and it was buzzing with really attractive shop fronts and, more importantly is a town that ouses self confidence, we should have that aspiration and be that confident. I accept that we will probably never have anything close to the money in Harrogate but why only have the ambition to hold our grey little position against the likes of Stockton and (lord help us) Teesside Park when we could be carving out a niche as a destination town within a huge amount to offer. So, in terms of practical things - I heartily agree that dodging the buses and the queues outside Waterstones etc is terrible and a bus station is sorely needed. Put some real investment into shop frontages, make them interesting rather than painting over the cracks and the poor quality, make them something people actually want to shop in and lease. Again, I have to look at Harrogate here and just a bit of thought could deliver something really nice. The yards could be great but are still dingy and at times dirty (especially when our night time revellers have finished with them). We could do worse than learn a few things from places like Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth. Whilst I know this is a new build and enclosed, they have managed to attract really good shops into small spaces and are pulling in shoppers. I have seen other towns where they have put glass canopies over some streets so people can keep dry and more of a cafe culture is possible - would it be a stretch of the imagination to do this over some of our yards and also light them properly so they appeal in all weathers and at night? Have a real drive to chase absentee landlords and those just sitting on buildings rather than doing their bit. I am willing to bet a serious investment in the "Flares" building on Skinnergate and getting a lovely frontage on the place would give a real shot in the arm to that area. At the moment Skinnergate is a bit of a no mans land between Grange Road, Duke street and Post House Wynd and it shows and makes the town a bit disjointed. Get rid of any 1970s street furniture, who wants to look at (and navigate around) planters made of pebbledashing and pre cast concrete? It looks awful and unwelcoming. Parking could also be cheaper but it is not a deal breaker for me as you can have 3 hours free in Sainsburys or 2 hours free in Halfords and just walk a bit. roo123
  • Score: 5

2:41pm Wed 26 Mar 14

oliviaden6 says...

Some very interesting comments and ideas posted here but alas i believe the council is just going through the motions of saying we have consulted the public, do we know if the council and its officers even look at these pages let alone take any notice of comments posted. Darlington needs good leadership and some proper planning, the people need to be consulted and really really be listened to after all the councilors are there through our votes and should be doing our bidding not have a private agenda.
Some very interesting comments and ideas posted here but alas i believe the council is just going through the motions of saying we have consulted the public, do we know if the council and its officers even look at these pages let alone take any notice of comments posted. Darlington needs good leadership and some proper planning, the people need to be consulted and really really be listened to after all the councilors are there through our votes and should be doing our bidding not have a private agenda. oliviaden6
  • Score: 1097

3:14pm Wed 26 Mar 14

Bambooflyrod says...

At last, some reasoned debate on the future of our Town without the usual Council bashers. Some excellent points very well made.

Whilst I agree that improvements could be made to shops fronts etc. it has to be remembered that these are privately owned and the Council can do very little about it unless in extreme circumstances such as public safety. It is the private landlords who should be made to clean up their act.

With regard to the Mowden/Northgate House argument , again, privately owned. Also, if you were to utilise the building as is suggested for Mowden staff. as I understand it, there are 400 jobs involved here. Where on earth are all the cars going to go in the Gladstone Street area even if only 50% used their own vehicles.

Parking will always be a contentious issue and lessons should be learnt from the experiences of other towns and acted upon. I do appreciate that to keep chopping and changing parking regulations can be very confusing and expensive in terms of signage etc but a bit of loosening up from the powers that be should be exercised. Be brave, not reckless. Be leaders and not followers.

Whilst not perfect, Darlington is still streets in front of other towns in many ways. It is a compliment to the Town and its inhabitants that those outside are wanting to invest money in us.
At last, some reasoned debate on the future of our Town without the usual Council bashers. Some excellent points very well made. Whilst I agree that improvements could be made to shops fronts etc. it has to be remembered that these are privately owned and the Council can do very little about it unless in extreme circumstances such as public safety. It is the private landlords who should be made to clean up their act. With regard to the Mowden/Northgate House argument , again, privately owned. Also, if you were to utilise the building as is suggested for Mowden staff. as I understand it, there are 400 jobs involved here. Where on earth are all the cars going to go in the Gladstone Street area even if only 50% used their own vehicles. Parking will always be a contentious issue and lessons should be learnt from the experiences of other towns and acted upon. I do appreciate that to keep chopping and changing parking regulations can be very confusing and expensive in terms of signage etc but a bit of loosening up from the powers that be should be exercised. Be brave, not reckless. Be leaders and not followers. Whilst not perfect, Darlington is still streets in front of other towns in many ways. It is a compliment to the Town and its inhabitants that those outside are wanting to invest money in us. Bambooflyrod
  • Score: 2

4:07pm Wed 26 Mar 14

LUSTARD says...

dirty,, if you want to beat tinternet youd better clean your paint work, spice up your shop signage wash the walls down, sweep the front of your shop, all before 9am, dont forget to have all that crap cleared out of your gutters cos i dont like being splattered by a pigeon shyte wash when it rains hard. toilets are now down the alley between the market and the boot and shoe stinks to high heaven open your eyes if this is the just give us your money and get going attitude of shops with nil attempt to look after the place then their you go. looks desolate will be so.
dirty,, if you want to beat tinternet youd better clean your paint work, spice up your shop signage wash the walls down, sweep the front of your shop, all before 9am, dont forget to have all that crap cleared out of your gutters cos i dont like being splattered by a pigeon shyte wash when it rains hard. toilets are now down the alley between the market and the boot and shoe stinks to high heaven open your eyes if this is the just give us your money and get going attitude of shops with nil attempt to look after the place then their you go. looks desolate will be so. LUSTARD
  • Score: 3

7:03pm Wed 26 Mar 14

Awake-in-Darlo says...

First of all, comments from us are of little value if the Council do not take note. We should all reflect on the so-called "Consultation" and Talking Together about pedestrianisation and revamping High Row. Not many people wanted the waste of money...look at it now ! Think back to the days when the old traffic system worked, with a BUS STATION and buses MOVING through the town centre. SO, moving forward from the less pleasant place that we live in now...
1) Traders seem to feel that rents and Council tax, charges for parking,
visiting shoplifters etc. are to blame for a drop-off in business. I agree.
Needs tweaking then and more police presence ?
2) The covered market is a good place to shop, I use it a lot. The best place for an outdoor market is on the Market Square and with tempting
lower rents to encourage new stallholders and vibrancy
3) For goodness sake support public transport. One less (lucrative?) car
park, one new Bus Station ! Shameful for a town this size to have bus chaos and no information office or tourist info either.
4) Speaking of tourists, there could be much more respect for/attention to Darlington`s history and unique railway heritage, which would encourage visitors with money to spend.
5)Detrimental to the town are... Eyesores like Northgate House and a few other ugly buildings, too many takeaway food places, upsurge of scruffy pubs and daytime layabouts and evening ghost town feel, playground for young`uns with nothing better to do. No policing of streets. Bus jams.
Costly car parks. Litter. Drug culture. When did these creep in...?
6) Love the theatre, library, rail links, some of shops, indoor market, parks. Let us value what good we have and not sell out for shiny new developments which we do not need nor can we afford.
First of all, comments from us are of little value if the Council do not take note. We should all reflect on the so-called "Consultation" and Talking Together about pedestrianisation and revamping High Row. Not many people wanted the waste of money...look at it now ! Think back to the days when the old traffic system worked, with a BUS STATION and buses MOVING through the town centre. SO, moving forward from the less pleasant place that we live in now... 1) Traders seem to feel that rents and Council tax, charges for parking, visiting shoplifters etc. are to blame for a drop-off in business. I agree. Needs tweaking then and more police presence ? 2) The covered market is a good place to shop, I use it a lot. The best place for an outdoor market is on the Market Square and with tempting lower rents to encourage new stallholders and vibrancy 3) For goodness sake support public transport. One less (lucrative?) car park, one new Bus Station ! Shameful for a town this size to have bus chaos and no information office or tourist info either. 4) Speaking of tourists, there could be much more respect for/attention to Darlington`s history and unique railway heritage, which would encourage visitors with money to spend. 5)Detrimental to the town are... Eyesores like Northgate House and a few other ugly buildings, too many takeaway food places, upsurge of scruffy pubs and daytime layabouts and evening ghost town feel, playground for young`uns with nothing better to do. No policing of streets. Bus jams. Costly car parks. Litter. Drug culture. When did these creep in...? 6) Love the theatre, library, rail links, some of shops, indoor market, parks. Let us value what good we have and not sell out for shiny new developments which we do not need nor can we afford. Awake-in-Darlo
  • Score: 6

7:39am Thu 27 Mar 14

thevoiceofthevoiceless says...

Personally don't feel we need a bus station - I think people need to remember the old one and how awful dingy and underused it was (also bus companies won't pay for it) buses just need a destination to drop and pick up passengers the problem is that the destination at the moment is at the heart of our "pedestrian heart" - the oval on commercial street (if ever built) would be an ideal location for this like they have at the metro centre - it is on the ring road and connects well into the main town centre

Love the quirky independent shops (we have some on grange road) and would like to see more - but we also need to attract more mainstream retailers such as the h&m, debenhams, John Lewis, wagamamas of this world

As a side question why are we even having this debate as didn't the council only just complete the master plan and town centre fringe consultation instead of ideas just build something - the oval, green street waitrose, still waiting for the cinema to start which is worrying, debenhams at the echo building, pharmaceutical hub on Central Park, cross town route section as part of eastern bypass, tees valley metro, car park opposite town hall, food outlet where B&M is, nortgate house apartment conversion - only thing which has happend has been the building next to town hall which has shot up - is this because council will also be using these facilities me thinks!!
Personally don't feel we need a bus station - I think people need to remember the old one and how awful dingy and underused it was (also bus companies won't pay for it) buses just need a destination to drop and pick up passengers the problem is that the destination at the moment is at the heart of our "pedestrian heart" - the oval on commercial street (if ever built) would be an ideal location for this like they have at the metro centre - it is on the ring road and connects well into the main town centre Love the quirky independent shops (we have some on grange road) and would like to see more - but we also need to attract more mainstream retailers such as the h&m, debenhams, John Lewis, wagamamas of this world As a side question why are we even having this debate as didn't the council only just complete the master plan and town centre fringe consultation instead of ideas just build something - the oval, green street waitrose, still waiting for the cinema to start which is worrying, debenhams at the echo building, pharmaceutical hub on Central Park, cross town route section as part of eastern bypass, tees valley metro, car park opposite town hall, food outlet where B&M is, nortgate house apartment conversion - only thing which has happend has been the building next to town hall which has shot up - is this because council will also be using these facilities me thinks!! thevoiceofthevoiceless
  • Score: 1

12:23pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Homshaw1 says...

Middlesbrough has a modern bus station and it is a major asset. Darlington is fine if you know where you need to be otherwise it is a nightmare.

We need cheaper parking, toilets, a bus station, proper street cleaning and an end to the BID scheme. Then once the basics are in place we can start talking about other issues.
Middlesbrough has a modern bus station and it is a major asset. Darlington is fine if you know where you need to be otherwise it is a nightmare. We need cheaper parking, toilets, a bus station, proper street cleaning and an end to the BID scheme. Then once the basics are in place we can start talking about other issues. Homshaw1
  • Score: 5

1:29pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Spy Boy says...

oliviaden6 wrote:
Some very interesting comments and ideas posted here but alas i believe the council is just going through the motions of saying we have consulted the public, do we know if the council and its officers even look at these pages let alone take any notice of comments posted. Darlington needs good leadership and some proper planning, the people need to be consulted and really really be listened to after all the councilors are there through our votes and should be doing our bidding not have a private agenda.
Excellent! Wonderful to see so many 'Likes' on such entries as this. You all know what to do, vote out the 'so-called' Labour Council. I cannot see one aspect of their activities that I can reconcile with socialism. What I do see resembles a small dictatorship headed by a dangerously inept council cabinet and overpaid, underachieving executives with more hidden agendas than you can shake a stick at.
[quote][p][bold]oliviaden6[/bold] wrote: Some very interesting comments and ideas posted here but alas i believe the council is just going through the motions of saying we have consulted the public, do we know if the council and its officers even look at these pages let alone take any notice of comments posted. Darlington needs good leadership and some proper planning, the people need to be consulted and really really be listened to after all the councilors are there through our votes and should be doing our bidding not have a private agenda.[/p][/quote]Excellent! Wonderful to see so many 'Likes' on such entries as this. You all know what to do, vote out the 'so-called' Labour Council. I cannot see one aspect of their activities that I can reconcile with socialism. What I do see resembles a small dictatorship headed by a dangerously inept council cabinet and overpaid, underachieving executives with more hidden agendas than you can shake a stick at. Spy Boy
  • Score: 1

3:59pm Thu 27 Mar 14

vicky1975 says...

There are so many valid points raised here - I was born in Darlington, I live in Darlington and also have my business in Darlington. 3 years ago I tried to expand my business into Darlington Town Centre. As a childrens creative business , it was obvious the town centre was crying out for more things for families to do, so thought it was the perfect move. However 6 weeks after moving into Darlington Indoor Market, I realised it was the biggest mistake ever and I couldnt wait to move out. My intentions were good, but it was simply the wrong place to try and encourage creative businesses to grow.

Darlington lacks so much compared to other towns and cities - There is very little to bring in tourism. And this was brought to the councils attentions several years ago when I was involved in the steering project to plan the next 10 years and future regeneration of Darlington. They spent thousands of pounds for a study and report to be done, then after a year, decided to put it to a public consultation. So its clear they do not want to listen to local businesses and their opinions.
I tried to utilise empty shops for creative workshops (like Middlesbrough and Stockton were doing) but the council failed to acknowledge this was a good idea and it fell on deaf ears.
Its too little, too late - Most local towns in similar situations have accepted things need to change and moved with the times. But Im afraid Darlington Council seem to be still living in the dark ages.
Maybe they should be asking these questions to the retailers and small businesses who are moving out of the town centre in their droves as to why the town centre is failing?
It will take alot of time and money to improve the town centre - And thats providing the council will actually listen to the public. My business has grown without the help of my local council so im afraid I cant see the town centre ever changing for the better
It will be interesting to see what comes out of tonights meeting
There are so many valid points raised here - I was born in Darlington, I live in Darlington and also have my business in Darlington. 3 years ago I tried to expand my business into Darlington Town Centre. As a childrens creative business , it was obvious the town centre was crying out for more things for families to do, so thought it was the perfect move. However 6 weeks after moving into Darlington Indoor Market, I realised it was the biggest mistake ever and I couldnt wait to move out. My intentions were good, but it was simply the wrong place to try and encourage creative businesses to grow. Darlington lacks so much compared to other towns and cities - There is very little to bring in tourism. And this was brought to the councils attentions several years ago when I was involved in the steering project to plan the next 10 years and future regeneration of Darlington. They spent thousands of pounds for a study and report to be done, then after a year, decided to put it to a public consultation. So its clear they do not want to listen to local businesses and their opinions. I tried to utilise empty shops for creative workshops (like Middlesbrough and Stockton were doing) but the council failed to acknowledge this was a good idea and it fell on deaf ears. Its too little, too late - Most local towns in similar situations have accepted things need to change and moved with the times. But Im afraid Darlington Council seem to be still living in the dark ages. Maybe they should be asking these questions to the retailers and small businesses who are moving out of the town centre in their droves as to why the town centre is failing? It will take alot of time and money to improve the town centre - And thats providing the council will actually listen to the public. My business has grown without the help of my local council so im afraid I cant see the town centre ever changing for the better It will be interesting to see what comes out of tonights meeting vicky1975
  • Score: 3

1:22pm Fri 28 Mar 14

cholmes005 says...

I come to Darlington by train and rarely by bus. Theres some good pubs in the town that are really competitively priced bit the retail is way behind other towns of similar size. no Debenhams for starters and the whole commercial street area with derelict nightclub has gone down hill rapidly. The council have an asset in the civic theatre but they seem unwilling to spend money on it to attract bigger productions and Victoria road and yarm road near the station are also declineing. Huge potential in these areas for people using train station
I come to Darlington by train and rarely by bus. Theres some good pubs in the town that are really competitively priced bit the retail is way behind other towns of similar size. no Debenhams for starters and the whole commercial street area with derelict nightclub has gone down hill rapidly. The council have an asset in the civic theatre but they seem unwilling to spend money on it to attract bigger productions and Victoria road and yarm road near the station are also declineing. Huge potential in these areas for people using train station cholmes005
  • Score: 2

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