PLANS for a new industrial hub in Darlington with the potential for 2,000 jobs are a good example of local decision makers thinking big when it comes to economic regeneration.

The news comes on the back of last week’s announcement that the authority is pushing ahead with a 500-job plan to build an office block on the site of a former car park in the town’s Feethams area.

It remains to be seen whether the Darlington Borough Council-backed Ingenium Parc scheme, revealed by The Northern Echo today, will come to fruition, with a consultation now up and running, but it is encouraging to see proposals aimed at bringing skilled jobs to the town coming to the fore.

Loading article content

The council is clearly committed to keeping jobs in the town centre, a good example being when it joined forces with The Northern Echo several years ago to campaign for Department for Education workers to stay in Darlington after proposals to move them elsewhere were put forward.

It should be applauded for this, but at the same time needs to take heed of the warning signs posed by the closure or relocation of several big name retailers from the town centre.

Starbucks confirmed it is closing its Northgate branch last week, while McDonalds, BHS, TK Maxx and Argos are among the stores shutting up shop.

When challenged on what it is doing about this, the council said there is no need to panic and put forward a healthy 90 per cent occupancy figure for shop units in the town centre.

We are not suggesting there should be a panic, just that the council puts equal importance on generating jobs with a careful examination of the reasons why its town centre is struggling to keep hold of such flagship retailers.