PLANS for the redevelopment of a rugby ground as part of a groundshare between Darlington RFC and Darlington FC have been officially submitted to the council, the boards of both clubs have announced.

Changes to the Blackwell Meadows clubhouse, the car parking facilities and, once the rugby season has finished, work on the pitch and stands form the basis of the planning application submitted to Darlington Borough Council.

The two clubs said all parties are working closely together with the aim of Darlington Football Club making its return to the town and playing its home fixtures at Blackwell Meadows from the start of the 2015/16 season.

The fine details of the application will be made public once the supporting documentation submitted to the local authority has been validated and accepted.

However, part of the work to the ground will involve bringing it up to FA ground grading requirements.

Artists’ impressions of the redeveloped site were released in July this year, which show new terracing behind one goal and a stand with seating along the side of the pitch.

The images also show how the redesigned clubhouse could look, with an entrance facing the car park and a glass front overlooking the pitch.

Martin Jesper, chief executive of Darlington Football Club, added: “This represents a key milestone in the project and it allows a number of other work streams to be progressed whilst we await the outcome of the submission.

“More immediately, it allows the club to formally launch its Heading Home campaign – this is an awareness building initiative in which we are encouraging all fans, businesses, schools, colleges and community partners to ensure that everyone is fully aware of our plans.

“We are encouraging everyone in and around Darlington to play a part of this historic milestone in the club’s history”.

Michael Stowe, commercial director of Darlington RFC, said: “We are seeing the first major steps in the realisation of our ambitions to create a premier sports hub for the community of Darlington and the Tees Valley.

“Both Darlington RFC and Darlington FC have great potential that can be realised by, not working in isolation, but through cooperation and the forging of talents to create a stable future for everyone; not just both clubs but the town as well.

“There is still some way to go but we continue to look forward to welcoming Darlington FC to Blackwell Meadows.”