Making Darlington a living and working town centre
Early ideas on plans and proposals to revitalise Darlington’s town centre through targeted investment in key areas are to be discussed by cabinet members. The Strategic Sites Development Programme for Darlington town centre will examine how the changing needs of the High Street can be accommodated and helped to succeed in the coming months and years.
Early ideas on plans and proposals to revitalise Darlington’s town centre through targeted investment in key areas are to be discussed by cabinet members.
The Strategic Sites Development Programme for Darlington town centre will examine how the changing needs of the High Street can be accommodated and helped to succeed in the coming months and years.
Initial proposals see a mix of retail, leisure, business and residential uses in a more compact town centre.
The report will be discussed by cabinet members on 8 January.
Four areas in the town centre have been earmarked as strategically important:
- The Victorian Indoor Market – a unique attraction for Darlington, a refurbished and refreshed Indoor Market will be a key anchor for quality retail and fresh food offer.
- Skinnergate – provides opportunities for mixed use retail and residential use which will increase footfall and make the area more vibrant
- Northgate – the loss of M&S was a blow to this part of town – mixed use developments, including residential, may be considered to bring this area back to life
- Crown Street – an area mostly in private ownership, officers are working with property owners to understand their aspirations and look at what can be achieved. Any work in this area will complement the council’s commitment to refurbish Crown Street library, likely to take place in 2019/20.
Councillor Chris McEwan, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “The retail landscape has been changing across the country for several years but this year has seen some seismic shifts, particularly in the role of anchor department stores in town centre.
“Darlington hasn’t been immune to this but we still have a high proportion of national retailers and a strong independent sector, complemented by our leisure offer which was boosted by the Feethams development.
“We’re taking a holistic approach to the future of the town centre and looking at how we can secure Government funding, as well as working alongside private investors, to future-proof our town centre.
“The town centre is vital not only to our economy but also to our sense of community and well-being as a town.”
If the report is agreed by cabinet members, a period of consultation and community engagement will take place on the individual proposals as they develop further.
Funding for any work will be subject to the type of scheme that is decided on, the availability of Government funding and commitments from private investors, as well as the council’s own budgets.
Early feasibility work referred to in the report is being funded through the Government’s Estate Regeneration Fund and the council’s advanced design fees budget.