The Towns Fund

The Towns Fund in Darlington

What is the Towns Fund?

In September 2019, the government invited 100 places, including Darlington, to develop proposals for a Town Deal as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund.

The Towns Fund is part of the government’s plan for levelling up the UK economy. Towns across England will work with the Government to address growth constraints and to ensure there is a course of recovery from the impact of COVID-19. The overarching aims of the Towns Fund are to drive the sustainable economic regeneration of towns to deliver long term economic and productivity growth. This will be done through investment in:

  • Urban regeneration
  • Skills and enterprise infrastructure
  • Connectivity

In November 2019 Government issued a Towns Fund Prospectus [external link] with more detailed objectives of the programme. With further guidance issued in June 2020, available at the Gov.uk website [external link]

Darlington’s Towns Fund proposals

Following issue of the Towns Fund Prospectus in November 2019 our Towns Board, was set up. The Board first met in January 2020 and have met twice in July 2020.

At the initial meeting the Board agreed the general direction of the emerging bid which included:

  • Working to deliver the vision around the Victoria Road Gateway and Bank Top station area
  • Improvements along the North Road corridor from the town centre up to and including the Railway Heritage Quarter site
  • Consideration of the Town Centre

The Towns Fund guidance required the submission of a Town Investment Plan (TIP) as the next stage in the process. An important document which identifies our priorities and indicates the support requested by Darlington under the Town Deal.

Darlington has submitted its TIP, seeking £25M funding, in the first cohort of towns at the end of July 2020. Which was agreed at Cabinet Committee on the 14th July 2020 [pdf document]

The TIP was developed and prioritised from earlier proposals ensuring that our proposed intervention projects are in line with the Government intervention framework provided. The projects proposed fit well with our strategic planning, in particular, enhancing key routes into the Town Centre, building on projects already in development such as those at Bank Top Station and the Rail Heritage Quarter at the Head of Steam. The aim is to utilise Government funding to attract further investment to maximise the benefit for Darlington.

Forward Funding

On the 1st July 2020 Darlington received an offer of £1,000,000 grant funding from Government to fund capital projects targeted for delivery in 2020/21. This grant is to be used to support capital spend within the intervention framework as set out in the Towns Fund Further Guidance.

We have submitted our proposals for the £1M to Government alongside our Town Investment Plan on the 31st July 2020.

The projects proposed are in line with those encouraged by Government to assist in responding to immediate challenges, including: 

  • Improvement to or new parks and green spaces and sustainable transport links
  • Improvements to town centres including repurposing empty commercial properties

Engagement

DBC and the Government are keen to gather feedback from our communities.

The Mytown portal [external link] has been set up to give individuals or organisations the chance to have their say on what they think their town needs to encourage skills, improve transport links and boost regeneration.

Darlington Town Deal Board

The board meet on a regular basis to progress Darlington’s Towns Fund proposals.

To date the Board has met in January 2020 and twice in July. This has provided agreement to the direction of intervention proposals, and in July, the submission of our Town Investment Plan to Government on the 31st July 2020.

The full membership of the Darlington Town Deal Board

  • Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council
  • Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington
  • Paul Wildsmith, Managing Director, Darlington Borough Council
  • Alison Fellows, Commercial & Delivery Director, Tees Valley Combined Authority
  • Angela Howey (Chair), BT (formerly EE), Member of the Tees Valley LEP, Member of Darlington Cares, Large Local Employer
  • Kate Roe, Principal, Darlington College
  • Nicola Bailey, Chief Officer, Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Julie Wallin, Carver Commercials, Town Centre Reference Group Member, Local Business
  • Jake Tompkins, Managing Director, Modus Seabed Intervention Ltd, Local Business
  • Michael Houghton, Director of Commissioning & Development, NHS North Durham CCG
  • David Robinson, Chief Executive, YMCA
  • Yvonne Richardson, Community Representative
  • Adrian Green, Chief Superintendent, Durham Police

 Key Support Officers

  • Ian Williams, Director of Economic Growth & Neighbourhood Services, Darlington Borough Council
  • Mark Ladyman, Assistant Director, Economic Growth, Darlington Borough Council