PLANS to demolish and rebuild Darlington’s ageing fire station have had to be put on hold after concerns were raised over the potential for flooding.

It had been hoped work might already be underway on the site in St Cuthbert’s way, after an application was submitted to Darlington Borough Council last year.

But objections from the Environment Agency (EA) have put the scheme on hold, forcing fire chiefs to commission a new assessment of the risks in the area and begin a fresh round of consultation on the proposals.

“We have severe concerns over the delays on this project,” said Tony Hope, treasurer for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority.

“We’ve identified a successful tender and submitted a price, but if the price starts to escalate that will cause if some issues.”

He added: “We’re going to make every effort to keep this within the approved levels and once we’ve got the flood assessment back we want to push the button and progress as quickly as we can.”

Mr Hope was speaking at this morning’s (Monday, September 23) meeting of the fire authority to update members on the project’s progress.

A budget of £4 million had previously been agreed, but due to delays he requested and was granted permission to increase this by up to 10 per cent if necessary, without having to seek the authority’s approval.

According to a report for the authority, part of the hold up has been caused by ‘resourcing issues’ at the EA which meant it had not yet responded to the latest flood risk assessments.

Coun John Shuttleworth called for the EA to foot the bill of any extra costs caused by delays.

And Barnard Castle councillor Richard Bell was sceptical of the notion of any flood risk at the site.

He said: “I’ve never heard of that dual carriageway flooding and my concern is someone has done a desktop assessment and just seen there’s a river nearby.

“Before we jump through hoops I would say if there is a flood risk then that Skerne riverbank needs to be looked at as a job lot and we should be challenging any stipulations by the EA.”