CAMPAIGNERS who produced a 130,000-word study detailing the importance of a historic parkland are celebrating an agreement to abandon plans to build homes on the area so it can be enjoyed by residents for generations to come.

Darlington Borough Council leader Councillor Heather Scott said the authority would remove controversial proposals to build in the grounds surrounding the grade II-star listed Blackwell Grange Hotel from the draft Local Plan, which the council is producing to guide future developments.

She said the volume and strength of historical and environmental information put forward by the Parkland Heritage Network had highlighted the importance of protecting the area, which has been dubbed “the last of Darlington’s Georgian Pleasure Grounds”.

The document also revealed how the parkland had been based on designs by 18th century landscape architect Capability Brown and still had ridge and furrow features, indicating how it was farmed in the Middle Ages.

The move is expected to be ratified by the council’s Cabinet when it next considers the Local Plan, which had included proposals to build on part of the grounds, including flats and executive houses by Blackwell Lane, among other schemes.

Cllr Scott emphasised that the authority had always intended to protect the parkland nearest the property, part of which was completed in 1710 for the industrialist George Allan.

She added meeting an ancestor of the industrialist, Sir Mark Anthony Havelock-Allan QC had been “very useful” and she had offered reassurances that his ancestors’ home would be protected in the forthcoming Local Plan. Cllr Scott said: “The council has got to see if there is any way of getting grants to help maintain the parkland in the future.”

The Northern Echo: Sir Mark Anthony Havelock Allan QC presents the Parkland Heritage Network study to Cllr Heather ScottSir Mark Anthony Havelock Allan QC presents the Parkland Heritage Network study to Cllr Heather Scott

Angela and Michael Green said they were thrilled by the outcome of the Parkland Heritage Network’s campaign and hoped the potential of the grounds would now be maximised, such as for the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Mr Green said: “We are excited because the council has listened. We are pleased that something historic like the parkland has been saved.”