Building work has continued at a site linked to a big-name brand on the outskirts of Darlington.

On Wednesday (March 20), images showing the progress of building work at the old Akbar Dynasty and Tulip restaurants on the A66, near Sadberge, next to the Esso garage, were revealed.

After becoming Tulip Indian Restaurant in June 2022, the venue closed last year - with the restaurant not officially releasing a statement on its closure. 

Here are the new images of the site:

The Northern Echo: A66 DARLINGTONThe Northern Echo: A66 DARLINGTONThe Northern Echo: A66 DARLINGTONThe Northern Echo: A66 DARLINGTONThe Northern Echo: A66 DARLINGTONThe Northern Echo: A66 DARLINGTONPicture: NORTHERN ECHO.

Earlier this year, developers started work on the empty unit, which saw HGVs and building materials on the site recently, and led to suggestions about what it could become now it is no longer an Indian restaurant. 

Today (Wednesday, March 20), more images of the progress have been released, which shows a complete transformation of the unit. 

The Northern Echo: The former Tulip Restaurant on the A66 near SadbergeThe former Tulip Restaurant on the A66 near Sadberge (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

The building, which previously had Tulip branding on, now has a new blue paint job and the entranceway and inside have been completely transformed. 

While no signs have gone up to signal who will take on the business, strong links about Starbucks moving into the unit have been made over recent months. 


The Northern Echo: Elevations in the plans that are linked to the Starbucks siteElevations in the plans that are linked to the Starbucks site (Image: PLANNING)

Alongside the building work, a new drive-thru section has been created and groundworks also complete.

Before building work started, the venue had a controversial past under Akbar Dynasty, which saw it have its licence revoked in April 2021 - due to employing illegal workers. 

The Northern Echo: Workers on the site near to DarlingtonWorkers on the site near to Darlington (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

But now it is set to become a new use entirely after plans were submitted for a Drive Thru Coffee Shop on the A66 site, which will see a pay window, indoor seating, and removal of some previous items that were used in its previous Indian restaurant use. 

The plans, which were submitted to Darlington Borough Council at the end of last year, also sought to change its opening hours to 5.30am to 11pm daily.

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At the start of 2024, those plans were approved with several conditions. 

No name was linked to the planning application, beyond the WardmanBrown as architects and Cliff Court Developments Ltd as applicants. 

The Northern Echo understands that it's Starbucks who are linked with the site in question. 

Starbucks has been contacted for a comment regarding the A66 Sadberge site.