AN application has been made to formally recognise a historic library’s significance as an asset to the community.

At the end of March, Crown Street Library’s status as an ‘asset of community value’ under the Localism Act 2011 expired after a fixed five-year period.

Campaigners battling to save the Grade II listed building from closure welcomed steps taken by arts collective Darlington for Culture to have the property re-listed.

On Wednesday, DfC confirmed that it had recently applied to have the library placed back on the register of properties – along with The Hippodrome, The Head of Steam: Darlington Railway Museum, Cockerton Library and the Bridge Centre for Visual Arts.

The Northern Echo understands that the application was formally submitted to Darlington Borough Council earlier this week.

If successful, DfC would be granted the right to bid on the closure-threatened property if it were ever put up for sale.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for DfC said a member of the collective had been working on the submission since January, adding: “Unfortunately one can’t stop a community asset from being de-listed after 5 years.

“The Localism Act (2011) is clear that after five years, the property must be removed from the list.

“We feel that this is an unfortunate element of the Act and provisions for reviewing listed status after five years would be preferable.”

Darlington Borough Council has pledged to treat the application as they would any other, despite the library being earmarked for closure under a £12.5m programme of budget cuts that will see the transfer of most of its resources to the Dolphin Centre and Cockerton Library handed to volunteers while the town’s mobile library service has already been axed.

DfC chair, Jo Potter, said: “DfC has long argued that the central library should remain at Crown Street and we said as much in our response to Darlington Borough Council’s latest budget consultation earlier this year.

“We remain ready to sit down with the Council and others to find a solution to this. It should also be noted we remain deeply sad at the loss of the mobile library and stand ready to help save Cockerton Library.”

Mr Potter said: “Seeking to register such assets in this way is part of our contribution to safeguarding the cultural life of our town. It does not necessarily imply that we want to take over the running of such assets.

“However where we can be part of a robust plan to save a cultural asset at risk of closure we will play our part.”

Paul Howell - from the Friends of Darlington Libraries - welcomed the application and said: “We are pleased to see this happening but will be disappointed if the council do not react favourably to the application.”

The Northern Echo would like to make it clear that an earlier article that suggested DfC had no plans to make an application was published in good faith, based on comments from DfC.