A council is to spend almost £1m on road improvements in a bid to help cafés and shops.

Leaders in Darlington Borough Council have approved the plans for Coniscliffe Road to support "pavement café culture" and local businesses and make "a safe, attractive and working streetscape for the future".

They hope the changes will spark economic growth, help post-Covid recovery, keep people in the town centre, encourage people to walk and cycle, and create a "vibrant social space".

They want to develop a "café culture, moving away from the declining, traditional retail space, and enhance the feeling of safety, wellbeing, and ownership of the space", says a council report.

"In addition, the improvements will encourage more people to visit and spend their leisure time and money in the area’s cafés/shops, in turn benefitting the local economy."

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Councillor Alan Marshall told a cabinet meeting there had been a "fairly wide-ranging" consultation on the improvements.

He said: "This report seeks cabinet approval for the allocation of £700,000 from the Tees Valley Indigenous Growth Fund for improvements at Coniscliffe Road, which will act as a catalyst for economic growth and town centre recovery.

"It should be noted that these designs are conceptual only.

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"Should funding be approved the highways department will then move to a fully engineered and costed scheme.

"The council has been working with local businesses to support them in their recovery from the Covid pandemic, and like other authorities, have actively promoted the development of outdoor hospitality settings in the town centre by relaxing existing licensing laws and introducing temporary road closures to allow hospitality businesses to operate safely and effectively utilising outside areas.

"It is now time for the council to continue that support with more permanent solutions, in this instance on Coniscliffe Road."

The Northern Echo: A view of Coniscliffe Road, Darlington. Picture: Dr. Inks.A view of Coniscliffe Road, Darlington. Picture: Dr. Inks.

The report says the council was given £10m from the Tees Valley Indigenous Growth Fund in 2019, then another £2m this year.

It states: "It is proposed to utilise this funding to invest in the upgrading of Coniscliffe Road to create a focal point for outdoor dining and hospitality together with a social space for local people and visitors to the town."

It adds the temporary measures proved popular with businesses and customers on Skinnergate and Coniscliffe Road, and designs were drawn up for a permanent solution for these areas and The Yards.

The improvements to all these areas will cost a total of £940,000.

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They will include pedestrianisation to the east end of Coniscliffe Road, two-way access to Hogarth Court, a permanently redirected bus route, two-way cycling access, pavement café areas, widened footpaths and tree planting.

On top of the £700,000 from the Tees Valley Indigenous Growth Fund, another £240,000 will come from Darlington's Town Board Fund.

The cabinet agreed to support the improvement works and hand out the funding.


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