AN ambitious bid for up to £25m of Government funding to help transform Darlington town centre is being prepared.

The borough council’s economy and regeneration boss Councillor Chris McEwan told a meeting of the authority’s cabinet that analysis of the issues facing the central area had highlighted “a need for quite significant structural change” in some elements of the town centre.

Members heard the authority had determined to bid for a share of the £675m Future High Street Fund announced in last year’s Budget.

Cllr McEwan said: “We believe this investment is critical to levering further private sector funding. Whilst there is a challenge that we can’t avoid or deny there is also an opportunity to be masters of our own destiny.”

Councillor Andy Scott questioned whether Darlington could seek to replicate positive effect the Orange Pip artisan food and beverage market had had on the heart of Middlesbrough. Cllr McEwan said the “phenomenal success” of the Orange Pip market had been discussed at length by the Town Centre Reference Group.

He added: “We are in some dialogue with the creators of that concept, but that is just one of the things the town centre reference group is looking at.”