PROPOSALS to finally move Darlington’s cattle market out of the town centre received strong support from councillors at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Plans to relocate the historic market to a more appropriate site will protect residents from noise, disruption, congestion - and being ‘chased by mad bulls’, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet members said.

The meeting saw councillors back plans to move the Darlington Farmers Auctions Market (DFAM) from Clifton Road to a purpose-built site off the A68 at Humbleton Farm.

Proposals to go before full council for approval later this month would also see the authority buy 53 acres of land owned by DFAM off Neasham Road, with the intention of building more than 500 homes.

Over decades, the cattle market, which is almost 140 years old, has been the subject of several failed relocation attempts but councillors believe that the end of the battle could finally be in sight.

For many years, residents have called for the market to be moved, blaming its operations for causing congestion, noise pollution and disruption in the area.

The strength of public feeling intensified following the deaths of two children, with 11-year-old Jack Hunter and 15-year-old Kyle Hull losing their lives after falling through roofs at the mart in 1992 and 2015 respectively.

At the meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Steven Harker pledged to push for the site to be cleared quickly once plans were finalised, saying: “The council will be responsible for the site and will clear it promptly as we are aware of the history and the tragedies at that site – we will clear it swiftly.”

Cabinet members voted to approve recommendations made in a report prepared by officers that said the relocation would also free up land for the delivery of the Bank Top station upgrade.

Cllr Cyndi Hughes said: “This is the best chance in a generation to get the cattle market moved out of the town and on behalf of those families who have lost beloved sons there, I welcome the report and hope there are no further injuries at that town centre magnet of misadventure.

“For the residents that have had years of disruption, smells, noise and upset, I welcome recommendations that I hope will lead to the move of the market to a vastly more appropriate site.”

The plans have cross party support, with the town’s Conservative leader Heather Scott saying she hoped the proposals represented the last hurdle in the long battle to move the cattle market to a site that would benefit both the business and the town.

Council leader Bill Dixon said the cattle market relocation had been an issue for as long as he had been on the council, adding: “We might just, this time, get it over the line.

“It’s far from clear but a lot of work has gone into this and it has been like playing 3D chess with a blindfold on.”

He added: “If the council can get this across the line it will also be of huge benefit to all of those people who have been chased down Victoria Road by mad bulls.

“Residents who have lived in Darlington for many years will remember that happening - though it doesn’t happen as often now, it was a regular occurrence and people had to stay in the pub for hours to make sure the bull had gone.”

  • The proposals will be put to the full council for approval at a meeting taken place on Thursday, March 22.