Darlington receives £1m Towns Fund boost
Darlington has been allocated £1m from the Government’s Towns Fund – an early advance to help restart the economy after lockdown, ahead of the council submitting its full bid for £25m of regeneration funding.
The Towns Fund is a national pot of £3.6bn, with Darlington one of 100 councils invited to submit a bid that must show proposals that will support long term growth in key areas.
The council – working with a dedicated Towns Fund Board, made up of the leader of the council, senior figures from business, education, the voluntary sector and members of the Council management team – is preparing to submit its bid for £25m at the end of this month [July].
The aim of the bid is to use the funding to complement, and extend, regeneration schemes 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.
The Government has now notified Darlington that is has been awarded £1m of capital project funding, with the aim of kickstarting the economy.
The £1m must be spent by March 2021 and work will begin to identify areas where it can be best spent.
Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “This is fantastic news, just what is needed at the moment to help us deliver our plans to improve the town and recover from the challenges we all face from the pandemic.
“The letter from Government arrived just minutes after we had finished a Towns Fund Board meeting where we were discussing our plans for the £25m improvement plan bid and I am sure partners on the board will be equally excited by the news of the opportunity to get things started earlier than we had hoped.
“We will work out exactly how the money will be used soon but what I can say is it will be used well to enhance our existing and proposed plans for the key gateways in to the town, namely the North Road and the station areas together with improvements to the town centre.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I am delighted that Darlington has received £1m from the Government’s Towns Fund to help with its exciting redevelopment plans for the town centre, which are even more important than ever as we begin our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our town centres and high streets are key to my plan for jobs and for our recovery. Supporting local jobs and local businesses will enable us to comeback stronger and I am committed to continue doing whatever I can make sure that this happens.
“I hope everyone goes out and supports the fantastic local shops, cafes and businesses we have in Darlington. They need our backing more than ever right now.”
Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington, added: “I’m delighted to see continued investment coming to Darlington, which I’ve been involved in campaigning for.
“I look forward to building on the successes of the Towns Fund bid and to the Future High Street Fund delivering more for the development of Darlington town centre.
“The additional £1m is incredibly welcome and speaks to our levelling up agenda.”