Ambitious plans for Darlington in a series of redevelopments

Victoria Road conception

DARLINGTON could be transformed in coming years if two council bids for Government funding are successful, announced as separate work on routes between the station and town centre begins.

Darlington Council, as one one of 100 councils invited to, has submitted plans to Government in a bid for £25m of regeneration funding.

The Town Fund is a national pot of £3.6bn for renewal projects that support long term growth in key areas.

The funding will complement and extend regeneration schemes in the town centre; in North Road, in the area between the town centre and the Head of Steam Museum; and Victoria Road, including the areas around the station and the cattle market.

It will also be used to create adult learning space in the town centre and additional T Levels educational and skills space at the college, to support the creation of a 26 mile walking and cycling route along the original Stockton and Darlington Railway line and create a linear park along the River Skerne.

A separate bid for £1m of Forward Funding – announced in July by the Government as part of its proposals to boost the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic – has also been submitted. If successful, the £1m is targeted for spend by March next year.

The ambitious plans come as work to improve a link between Darlington’s railway station and the town centre and create a safer, greener route for pedestrians and cyclists gets underway.

The Rethinking Victoria Road project, funded by a grant from Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Sustainable Access to Employment Fund and the council’s local transport budget, is part of a wider aim to regenerate the areas around the station ahead of the planned redevelopment of the station itself.

It also coincides with the beginning of work to secure and redevelop the Clifton Road auction mart site.

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Council, said: “The proposals put forward by the Town Deal Board are ambitious and wide-ranging but, just as importantly, realistic and achievable.

“There will be long-lasting benefits to key parts of the town, not just from an economic point of view but in terms of improving the public realm, securing heritage assets and creating central housing and business accommodation.”

The Victoria Road scheme will see the layout of Victoria Road, between St Cuthbert’s Way and the station portico entrance, changed to create more space for pedestrians as well as facilities for cyclists.

Traffic lights at the junction of Clifton Road and a 20mph speed limit will be introduced to tackle issues around speeding in the area, while urban planting and new lighting will be introduced to improve the overall look of the route.

Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “Victoria Road is a key gateway to the town, one of the first places visitors to Darlington see when they step off the train and we want it to better reflect the aspirations of the town.

“The Rethinking Victoria Road project, alongside the wider regeneration opportunities for the area that come with the planned station redevelopment, is an excellent chance to make real, lasting change that will benefit residents and visitors alike.

“We have committed to making improvements in Darlington’s cycling and walking routes and this is a great example. Hopefully it will encourage more people to access the station on their bike or on foot.”