A PIONEERING neighbourhood renewal scheme designed to improve outcomes for local residents’ in all areas of wellbeing looks set to be launched in an area of multiple deprivation.

Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet will consider allocating an initial £100,000 for the scheme to transform the Northgate ward area west of North Road by addressing a broad range of issues including housing, environment, education, health, employment, safety and social relationships.

The multi-agency programme will pilot a range of interventions, from support and advice to enforcement activities where required in Northgate, where the unemployment rate has historically stood at more than double the overall Darlington figure and where almost half of the households have been classed as in receipt of low incomes.

Recent analysis found that Northgate ward was a key hotspot for many measures related to poor housing conditions, including fuel poverty, homes in poor condition and number of long-term empty properties. It also found, however, that Northgate is a hotspot for many wider measures relating to deprivation generally, including child poverty and households in receipt of welfare benefits.

The scheme aims to build on the Fairer Richer Darlington concept introduced by the previous council administration and will involve a range of different public and private sector organisations and community bodies. They will be tasked with leading on issues ranging from wages, job quality, health behaviour and adult education to green spaces, community cohesion, crime and safety.

It is expected the majority of the initiative’s actions will be funded through the council and other agencies’ planned budgets. However, where a particular intervention requires additional resource, £100,000 of the council’s Neighbourhood Renewal Futures Fund will be used to support the programme.

The authority’s community safety portfolio holder Councillor Jonathan Dulston said the council would look to introduce successful elements of the scheme elsewhere in the borough as soon as possible. He said Northgate residents felt the area had been forgotten as the environment had declined and antisocial behaviour increased.

Cllr Dulston added: “We want to do something differently where we look at all the issues. It is ambitious and a local authority we need to be leading the way. We want Darlington to be a blueprint for neighbourhood renewal and to give people a sense of ownership and pride in their area. There has been various neighbourhood renewal projects over the years, but we are saying this is a unique multi-agency approach across both the public and private sectors.”

Councillor Stephen Harker, leader of the council’s Labour group, said he fully supported the sentiment and objectives of the scheme, but was concerned about the capacity of the authority to fund actions following austerity.

Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Anne-Marie Curry said it would be the scheme’s details and consideration of the diverse community in the ward that would determine whether it succeeded.