Council pledges to work with retailers to make Darlington town centre sustainable and successful at town centre conference

Council pledges to work with retailers to make Darlington town centre sustainable and successful at town centre conference

Council pledges to work with retailers to make Darlington town centre sustainable and successful at town centre conference

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

RETAILERS, business owners and the council need to work together and embrace technology and new ideas if Darlington town centre is to stay sustainable and successful in future, a major conference has heard.

The Darlington town centre conference last night welcomed representatives from businesses large and small for a frank debate about the town’s strengths and its weaknesses.

More than 60 people attended the conference and took part in workshop-style discussions that will influence council policy and the role of the business improvement district in the coming years (BID).

Retail offer, leisure facilities, the future of the markets and the potential impact of new developments such as the new cinema and hotel complex in the Feethams car park were high on the agenda.

Organised by Darlington Borough Council and Distinct Darlington, the conference aimed to round-up 18 months of strategy and consultation about the future direction of the town centre.

John Anderson, the council’s assistant director for regeneration, said Darlington was in a better position than most towns in the region coming out of the recession and had a number of exciting projects on the horizon.

He said: “We’ve been working on some of these projects for five years – the Feethams cinema development for example – and we want to remind people that some of the building blocks of recovery have already been laid.

“We have ambitions to build something like 6,000 new homes in the town and create 8,000 new jobs in the coming years. That’s important to the town centre and will bring economic activity and wealth, which will then create new business opportunities that we perhaps don’t have at the moment.”

He added: “We [the council] are not perfect, we have our challenges and change happens. There are significant changes happening in terms of internet shopping and the way people’s lifestyles are changing and the way they spend their leisure time.

“We’re saying to residents and businesses – how can we continue to support the town centre in the light of these changes and how can we take advantage of the opportunities ahead?”

Ian Taylor, director of Distinct Darlington, the town’s business improvement district company, said the conference was an opportunity for people to have their views heard and come up with new ideas.

He said: “This is part of a continuous improvement, we are always looking ahead. We’ve done an awful lot so far but accept that there are things we still need to do.

“Distinct Darlington is paid for by a levy on businesses and it is up to us to ensure we improve the town for the residents and visitors but also for those businesses.

“For me, a key issue is empty units – how do we get them filled in a ways that’s prosperous. We need to look closely at planning and whether residential use, bringing people back into the town centre to live, is a way forward.”

Comments (5)

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8:38am Fri 28 Mar 14

MSG says...

Hope they take into account the comments left on the Northern Echo "comments" site . Or will they ignore them and go their own way as per usual !!

Dont trust Darlington Borough Council to listen to its council tax paying residents !
Hope they take into account the comments left on the Northern Echo "comments" site . Or will they ignore them and go their own way as per usual !! Dont trust Darlington Borough Council to listen to its council tax paying residents ! MSG
  • Score: 6

9:15am Fri 28 Mar 14

JJ2000 says...

"We’re saying to residents and businesses – how can we continue to support the town centre in the light of these changes and how can we take advantage of the opportunities ahead?"

Have they ever taken note of anything that has been said here, by letter, by phone or by emails?
DBC haven't 'supported' the town for years.

DBC's relationship with the town is superficial and is only used to benefit a select few, not the businesses and residents of Darlington.
"We’re saying to residents and businesses – how can we continue to support the town centre in the light of these changes and how can we take advantage of the opportunities ahead?" Have they ever taken note of anything that has been said here, by letter, by phone or by emails? DBC haven't 'supported' the town for years. DBC's relationship with the town is superficial and is only used to benefit a select few, not the businesses and residents of Darlington. JJ2000
  • Score: 5

10:09am Fri 28 Mar 14

oliviaden6 says...

Darlington should be renamed DIXONVILLE as it appears to be nothing else but the councilors fiefdom. Total disregard is given by the council and its officers to anything that is said about any given subject by the hard pressed public. I am sorry if this is a negative attitude but from where i sit we are paying these people to do a job of work for and on our behalf, they are clearly NOT. Things need to change or Darlington will slip of the radar as a place to live and work if it hasn't done so already.
Darlington should be renamed DIXONVILLE as it appears to be nothing else but the councilors fiefdom. Total disregard is given by the council and its officers to anything that is said about any given subject by the hard pressed public. I am sorry if this is a negative attitude but from where i sit we are paying these people to do a job of work for and on our behalf, they are clearly NOT. Things need to change or Darlington will slip of the radar as a place to live and work if it hasn't done so already. oliviaden6
  • Score: 4

8:33pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Spy Boy says...

How well we all know this council. I would guess that many people reading my comments, and those of others, would think that we don't have a good word for the council, it's executives and cabinet, but we do. I have many good words for the council. Unfortunately, The Echo won't print them.

We could live with a benign dictatorship, but this lot don't meet any of the criteria for 'benign.' They do seem to meet a lot of the other requirements for a dictatorship. Come on Darlington ! Vote the whole sorry lot out next year.
How well we all know this council. I would guess that many people reading my comments, and those of others, would think that we don't have a good word for the council, it's executives and cabinet, but we do. I have many good words for the council. Unfortunately, The Echo won't print them. We could live with a benign dictatorship, but this lot don't meet any of the criteria for 'benign.' They do seem to meet a lot of the other requirements for a dictatorship. Come on Darlington ! Vote the whole sorry lot out next year. Spy Boy
  • Score: 1

10:10am Sat 29 Mar 14

grandmab says...

I hope they bring in on line voting so we can get more people voting. These councilors got in with less than ideal turnout. I have heard figures from 34% to 60% of eligible voters. How many times do I hear people say I am not going to vote they are all the same anyway. Others vote for the party not the person. Such an outdated system. Party politics does not belong in local councils. We need change and people need to actually get out and vote to make it.
I hope they bring in on line voting so we can get more people voting. These councilors got in with less than ideal turnout. I have heard figures from 34% to 60% of eligible voters. How many times do I hear people say I am not going to vote they are all the same anyway. Others vote for the party not the person. Such an outdated system. Party politics does not belong in local councils. We need change and people need to actually get out and vote to make it. grandmab
  • Score: 0

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