A PILOT project is being set up with a £57,000 grant to recycle old furniture in Darlington.

The town has been given the money by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to run the scheme.

The project will be run as a joint venture between North-East charities Settlement Furniture Services and the Furniture Reclamation and Delivery Enterprise (Frade).

Frade has been operating in Stockton since 1990. It collects unwanted, reusable pieces of furniture and sells them at low cost to disadvantaged families.

The Defra funding will allow the charity to expand its services to Darlington.

The money will be used to set up a collection point for furniture at Borough Road Industrial Estate and to employ two members of staff to run it.

Frade manager John Trevillion said: "The aim behind the project is to reduce the amount of bulk waste going to landfill sites, which is one of Defra's target areas.

"We will collect reusable pieces of furniture, such as beds and wardrobes, and provide them to families on benefits, or those who have been passed to us from the welfare agencies, which prevents them going to waste.

"We hope to be up and running in Darlington by the end of April."

A project called Darlington Furniture Help used to offer a similar service in the town but the charity, which was based in Borough Road, folded before Christmas.

Bill Westland, Darlington Borough Council's sustainability manager, said: "This new project will provide a service the town doesn't have at the moment and we look forward to working with Frade."

The grant has come from the Waste Partnership Fund (WPF), which was announced in November last year.

The fund is a key part of Defra's £4m Community Sector Support Package (CSSP), which aims to help the community sector develop stronger links with local authorities and share their expertise.

A spokesperson for Defra said: "The sector has pioneered many of the waste services available today, including kerbside collection of recyclables.

"In this respect, the fund will also be geared towards improved recognition of community waste groups' work in the waste sector by funding exemplary projects."

Nearly 600 applications for funding from community groups, from across the country, were received.

Defra divided £3m to 36 community groups which had their applications approved.