A FAMILY have told of their horror after learning their home is set to be demolished to make way for a new roundabout. 

The council-owned Darlington home on Carmel Road North has been a part of Lesley Austin’s family for 49 years, housing three different generations, but is set to be razed if

Darlington Borough Council approves plans to redevelop the A68 in the nearby Cockerton area.

Mrs Austin, 47, said her husband Richie, 52, and two children realised their home would be demolished when it had vanished from an artist’s impression image of the council’s plans released this week.

The Northern Echo: Lesley and Richie AustinLesley and Richie Austin

Read more: Consultation open for new roundabouts on the A68 in Darlington

The thought of losing their home is “taking a huge toll” on the family but the defiant residents have vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to keep it.

“I really don’t grasp why demolishing a house and changing the road is going to make any difference,” Mrs Austin told The Northern Echo.

“I’m not moving at my own free will here. It’s a big, quirky old house and I’m going to have to get rid of things that mean a lot to me.

“I don’t want to lose it and I will fight tooth and nail to keep it but I think it’s a case of it already being passed and they’re just waiting for funding.”

The Northern Echo: The house seen in an aerial photo in its current positionThe house seen in an aerial photo in its current position

The Northern Echo: An artists impression photo without the house An artists impression photo without the house

Mrs Austin said neighbours had heard rumours about the plans for around two years but was still shocked when the council ploughed ahead and released its controversial proposal.

She said: “It was hard when my friend sent me a screenshot of the artist’s impression. It really rattled me because it was the first time we had seen the house not on the corner.”

The plans would see the redesign of the existing mini roundabouts on the A68 in Cockerton and at the western end of Woodland Road, as well as the nearby roundabout linking Woodland Road with Carmel Road North and Staindrop Road.

But the Austin family say the road redevelopment is not needed.

“We never have a backlog of traffic at all unless there’s an accident. We purposely stand in the garden now to watch it and it flows,” Mrs Austin said.

“There isn’t a need for this and people are all of the same opinion: it’s not going to make any difference.

“The actual problem is West Auckland Road. I’ve lived here long enough now to know when there’s an accident on the motorway because the traffic changes.”

The Northern Echo: The junction of Woodland Road, Staindrop Road and Carmel Road North in Darlington where Darlington Council want to make changes to the road which would mean the demolition of a houseThe junction of Woodland Road, Staindrop Road and Carmel Road North in Darlington where Darlington Council want to make changes to the road which would mean the demolition of a house

The Northern Echo:

Read more: Residents respond to A68 Darlington roundabout plans

Mrs Austin, a private healthcare assistant, said the home’s convenient location means she can walk to work in minutes – but that would stop if she had to leave.

She added: “The council are trying to send us to the other end of town with the houses they’ve offered.

“We could have left this property years ago but we choose to live in this area. It’s close to work for me, close to the roads.

“I don’t want to move out of the area. The kids struggle with not knowing about the future.

“It has and it is taking a huge toll on all four of us in different ways.”
For now, the family are bracing themselves for the day the bad news arrives.

“I am part boxed up and ready to move,” Mrs Austin said. “I have had to de-home my home. It’s not a home anymore it’s a house.”

Darlington Council said a number of “suitable” alternative council homes have been offered to the Austin family.

Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “While these proposals are at an early stage we have already had a number of meetings and discussions with the tenant of the council-owned 267 Carmel Road North.

“The decision to demolish a residential building is never taken lightly but the constraints on space available in this area mean that if the proposed designs do go ahead, it will be necessary on this occasion.

“We are mindful that the tenant is being asked to vacate their long-term home, however a number of suitable alternatives have been offered – discussions which were initially progressing positively.

“We are committed to working with the tenant in a positive manner. The wider public consultation is open until February 11 and I would encourage anyone who has a view to email localtransportplan@darlington.gov.uk.”

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