Pedestrian bridge project for Darlington is scrapped after eight years in favour of a smaller scheme as the cost of the project reaches £2.65m

The original design for the Haughton Road pedestrian bridge, which has now been scrapped

The original design for the Haughton Road pedestrian bridge, which has now been scrapped

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

A £1.9m bridge that was due to form a key element of a major development in Darlington has been scrapped after years of delays – to be replaced by a smaller bridge.

The project to link the new Central Park development and the town centre with a pedestrian bridge is now almost eight years overdue and will cost at least £700,000 more than first planned.

The plans for a landmark bridge to cross the East Coast Main Line close to Darlington College were first revealed in 2006 but were beset by legal disputes, technical issues and the recession.

After resolving a legal dispute about the costs of the delayed scheme, Darlington Borough Council and its contractor, Carillion, have dropped the plans for the original bridge, which was to be 15m high and made of a special polymer material usually found in the marine industry.

A smaller bridge, made of steel and with simpler design, has now been proposed to provide access for pedestrians and cyclists across the East Coast Main Line, at a cost of £1.65m.

The entire project – which includes the partial manufacture and design of the original bridge and the cost of the new bridge – is expected to reach £2.65m.

The original budget for the bridge project was £1.9m.

Of that £2.65m, Darlington Borough Council said it expects its financial input to be £1m, while the remaining £1.65m came from the Department for Transport and English Partnerships.

In addition, the council took legal and expert advice. The Northern Echo reported in 2011 that the council had set aside £200,000 to cover legal fees in the dispute.

Darlington Borough Council said it had inherited the problem bridge from the now-disbanded Tees Valley Regeneration, which began the Central Park project, but that it was now able to build an ‘appropriate’ crossing on the site.

Council officials said the authority and Carillion both had to bear extra costs associated with the problems of the previous bridge, but insisted that its procedures for handling capital projects were ‘robust’ and that the majority of its building projects ran to time and budget.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council took over from Tees Valley Regeneration after Carillion were appointed to build the bridge. During the course of the build technical challenges arose which both parties sought to resolve.

“Both parties regret the delay in the provision of the bridge, but positive discussions enabled progress to be made.

“The pedestrian and cycle bridge will provide an important and safe crossing to Darlington College, Teesside University and the wider Central Park.”

The planning application for the new bridge has been submitted to the council’s planning department. If it is passed, work on the new bridge is expected to begin this summer.

TIMELINE:

  • 2006: Plans for a 65m long, 15m high pedestrian bridge to link Darlington College with Haughton Road across the East Coast Main Line are announced.
  • 2007-08: Tenders for the project are submitted and Carillion is appointed as contractor.
  • 2009/10: Tees Valley Regeneration, which had been running the wider Central Park project, is disbanded. Darlington Borough Council takes over Central Park and the pedestrian bridge project.
  • 2010: Planning permission for the bridge is agreed by Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee.
  • 2010: The sub-contractor appointed to manufacture the bridge using fibre reinforced polymer goes into liquidation.
  • 2011: A replacement subcontractor is appointed by Carillion to build the bridge.
  • 2011/12: Legal dispute between Darlington Borough Council and Carillion about the cost of the contract following the delays and technical aspects of the bridge.
  • 2013: Carillion and the council resolve the disagreement and make plans for a smaller, simpler bridge.
  • 2014: A planning application is submitted for the new bridge, to be designed and built by Carillion.

Comments (12)

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8:57am Wed 9 Apr 14

Lifetime Townie says...

Darlington Borough Council lost mega money on the Pedestrian Heart and ETC projects And afterwards promised that it wouldn't happen again as they had robust systems in place to deal with major projects but what do we now see? An action replay where another £million of our council tax is lost due to incompetence and are the top council officers still in a job? A straight forward job of building a tiny bridge across the railway at the college has cost us a small fortune that could have been used to pay front line staff. No doubt the £1m will be added to the DBC already bulging debt account.
Darlington Borough Council lost mega money on the Pedestrian Heart and ETC projects And afterwards promised that it wouldn't happen again as they had robust systems in place to deal with major projects but what do we now see? An action replay where another £million of our council tax is lost due to incompetence and are the top council officers still in a job? A straight forward job of building a tiny bridge across the railway at the college has cost us a small fortune that could have been used to pay front line staff. No doubt the £1m will be added to the DBC already bulging debt account. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 18

9:18am Wed 9 Apr 14

Darloresident says...

How much more of our money needs to be wasted before the people of Darlington wake up?? This council are incompetent and clueless.In private industry if it were shareholders money being chucked down the drain then I have no doubt heads would roll.
Will the council appoint an independent auditor to look as to whether the whole project was managed correctly and efficiently.. Where are the checks and balances in this council to ensure we the tax payers are getting value for our money??
Puffing Billy Dixon and his bunch of feckless council cronies couldnt run a bath never mind a multi million pound funded council..
How much more of our money needs to be wasted before the people of Darlington wake up?? This council are incompetent and clueless.In private industry if it were shareholders money being chucked down the drain then I have no doubt heads would roll. Will the council appoint an independent auditor to look as to whether the whole project was managed correctly and efficiently.. Where are the checks and balances in this council to ensure we the tax payers are getting value for our money?? Puffing Billy Dixon and his bunch of feckless council cronies couldnt run a bath never mind a multi million pound funded council.. Darloresident
  • Score: 27

9:54am Wed 9 Apr 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

I noticed the above two comments received a single thumbs down - no doubt from a Council stooge with a bee in his/her bonnet. So, I've redressed the balance for now and given both comments a big thumbs up.

Of course both comments are correct and accurate. You'd have to be blind and/or stupid - or a Council Employee to disagree.
I noticed the above two comments received a single thumbs down - no doubt from a Council stooge with a bee in his/her bonnet. So, I've redressed the balance for now and given both comments a big thumbs up. Of course both comments are correct and accurate. You'd have to be blind and/or stupid - or a Council Employee to disagree. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 8

10:07am Wed 9 Apr 14

pager11 says...

DBC could not run a bath never mind a council.
DBC could not run a bath never mind a council. pager11
  • Score: 19

10:10am Wed 9 Apr 14

stevegg says...

An absolute shambles and waste of council taxpayers money. The fact that the college was built without this footbridge actually being in place is beyond belief. The exisiting road bridge is barely wide enough for vehicles and the high volume of pedestrians that use it have to cross single file such is the width of the footpath. Another in a long line of council incompetence where no one will be held to account.
An absolute shambles and waste of council taxpayers money. The fact that the college was built without this footbridge actually being in place is beyond belief. The exisiting road bridge is barely wide enough for vehicles and the high volume of pedestrians that use it have to cross single file such is the width of the footpath. Another in a long line of council incompetence where no one will be held to account. stevegg
  • Score: 20

10:35am Wed 9 Apr 14

studio says...

2 years to resolve a legal dispute between the council and Carillion.

Thats 2 years to resolve a dispute between a supplier and a customer.

You`ve got to laugh at DBC, unfortunately i dont think they will change. Corrupt, workshy fat cats without half a brain cell between them.

How about using this sort of funding where its needed most. Improve the town centre and reduce rates for businesses. No need for a bridge into a town where nobody goes...
2 years to resolve a legal dispute between the council and Carillion. Thats 2 years to resolve a dispute between a supplier and a customer. You`ve got to laugh at DBC, unfortunately i dont think they will change. Corrupt, workshy fat cats without half a brain cell between them. How about using this sort of funding where its needed most. Improve the town centre and reduce rates for businesses. No need for a bridge into a town where nobody goes... studio
  • Score: 16

12:10pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Homshaw1 says...

Incompetence and waste is rife in public bodies. Taxes and rates could be cut substantially if things were run properly.
Incompetence and waste is rife in public bodies. Taxes and rates could be cut substantially if things were run properly. Homshaw1
  • Score: 15

5:22pm Wed 9 Apr 14

think twice says...

Carillion have dropped the plans for the original bridge, which was to be 15m high.
That would have meant a climb equal to the height of a five storey building for the good citizens of Darlington just to cross a few metres width of railway line.
If the new bridge is to be of similar height can we have an elevator at each end like those in the town hall?
Carillion have dropped the plans for the original bridge, which was to be 15m high. That would have meant a climb equal to the height of a five storey building for the good citizens of Darlington just to cross a few metres width of railway line. If the new bridge is to be of similar height can we have an elevator at each end like those in the town hall? think twice
  • Score: 4

6:53pm Wed 9 Apr 14

JJ2000 says...

This council is full of Artyf**ty nonsense ideas that are overly expensive and of little to no use whatsoever.
"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely"
It also makes you blind to the idiocy of grandiosity.
This council is full of Artyf**ty nonsense ideas that are overly expensive and of little to no use whatsoever. "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely" It also makes you blind to the idiocy of grandiosity. JJ2000
  • Score: 9

2:33am Thu 10 Apr 14

grandmab says...

That bridge should have been built at the same time as the college. The money wasted could have paid for help for the elderly or cared for children or any number of necessary schemes that have been cut to the bone. We could have saved quite a few jobs with that money.
That bridge should have been built at the same time as the college. The money wasted could have paid for help for the elderly or cared for children or any number of necessary schemes that have been cut to the bone. We could have saved quite a few jobs with that money. grandmab
  • Score: 6

8:57pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Border Terrier says...

Who the hell pays for these ludicrous projects? Oh I forgot Darlington taxpayers!
Who the hell pays for these ludicrous projects? Oh I forgot Darlington taxpayers! Border Terrier
  • Score: 1

12:57am Fri 11 Apr 14

Spy Boy says...

Border Terrier wrote:
Who the hell pays for these ludicrous projects? Oh I forgot Darlington taxpayers!
That's right and Dixon and Burns have just increased the payment by 1.98%. If they had made it 2% they would have been investigated and they don't want anyone looking at the books and totting up the cost of every failure.

Mind you, not everyone in Darlington pays, so it's just us ratepayers that cover the bill plus the bills of those that won't pay.
[quote][p][bold]Border Terrier[/bold] wrote: Who the hell pays for these ludicrous projects? Oh I forgot Darlington taxpayers![/p][/quote]That's right and Dixon and Burns have just increased the payment by 1.98%. If they had made it 2% they would have been investigated and they don't want anyone looking at the books and totting up the cost of every failure. Mind you, not everyone in Darlington pays, so it's just us ratepayers that cover the bill plus the bills of those that won't pay. Spy Boy
  • Score: 2

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