Open for business: Imperial Quarter safety measures reviewed
A review of safety measures brought in to ensure social distancing in parts of Darlington town centre has been completed, after senior councillors heard the strength of feeling from traders.
The council is committed to supporting local businesses and will continue to review the situation as Government guidance changes.
Following discussions with business owners in the Grange Road and Northumberland Street areas, the measures brought in to ensure social distancing in the area have been reassessed.
Councillor Andy Keir, Cabinet member for Local Services, has written to traders with an update on the position.
The barriers in Northumberland Street have been removed and the parking bays on that road reinstated. We have also reintroduced some parking into Grange Road, provided more loading areas and re-opened Blackwellgate and Houndgate to create temporary loading places.
Efforts will be made to reduce the visual effect of the barriers on Grange Road by improving their overall appearance and adding signage to make clear that shops and services in the street are open.
All council car parks remain free to use.
Councillor Keir said: “We have listened to the traders on Grange Road and we have looked and looked again at how we can put social distancing in place but we haven’t been able to accommodate everyone’s ideas. We have removed the loading bay outside Seymours and reintroduced some parking spaces.
“We’re acutely aware of the difficulties that the traders are facing and, as a council, we have worked hard to ensure all businesses have had access to the financial support available to them, including discretionary grants, as well as offering free parking in all our car parks.
“We’ve listened to what traders have had to say, and brought forward changes we hope will highlight the fact that the Imperial Quarter is open for business.
“As well as removing the barriers and bringing back parking on Northumberland Street, we’re introducing more crossing points for pedestrians, and creating a loading bay and disabled parking bays outside the Imperial Centre.
“We have looked at a number of suggestions regarding the barriers on both sides of Grange Road, but have concluded they must stay in place at this moment in time. However, we are working on options to soften the impact of the barriers. For example, we are investigating whether some of the barriers could be replaced with planters.
“We feel these changes demonstrate our willingness to listen to ideas and change things, without compromising public health, which has to be at the forefront of our thinking.”
Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, added: “We want to encourage people to visit the town centre, shop local and support our shops and services – our economy needs that boost as we start to emerge from lockdown.
“We recognise that there are challenges in the Imperial Quarter area and we are committed to working with the businesses during this challenging time.”