Preparations begin for cattle mart move
Preparations for Darlington’s cattle mart auction site to be demolished and made safe are underway ahead of the formal handover of the site to the council later this month.
The long-awaited departure of Darlington Farmers Auction Mart (DFAM) to its new purpose-built site at Humbleton Park, on the outskirts of the town, comes after almost 130 years in Clifton Road.
Councillors have reassured local residents that the Clifton Road site will be professionally secured and cleared of all buildings to ensure safety and minimize disruption to those living nearby.
Demolition contractors Thompsons of Prudhoe have been appointed to manage the clearance of the site. A comprehensive site plan has been drawn up with neighbours in mind, which will restrict working times, traffic movements, noise and dust management and with measures in place to tackle vermin, if necessary.
No plans have yet been drawn up for the future of the site but it will form a key part of the redevelopment of the Bank Top area, in conjunction with current improvement works to Victoria Road and the major upgrade of Darlington Railway Station.
The formal handover of the site to the council will take place on September 30, but work to secure the site and prevent trespassing once it is vacant will begin ahead of that date.
Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “The cattle mart is a part of Darlington’s history, sitting in the heart of town and providing a vital service to the region.
“But it’s been clear for many years that the town centre location, surrounded by homes and close to the station, was no longer appropriate. The new Humbleton Park facility is excellent and we’re pleased to support DFAM in their move.
“The Clifton Road site is a key part of the redevelopment of the Bank Top area and we’ll be looking closely at how it can best be used in the future. Local residents will, of course, be a part of that conversation.”
Councillor Alan Marshall, cabinet member for economy, said: “The Clifton Road site is a prime site for redevelopment, particularly in the context of the wider plans to regenerate the area.
“Having said that there will be no mad rush to develop and build on the site – there will be a comprehensive masterplan process that will work hand in hand with the station redevelopment works to ensure any work offers lasting economic and social benefits for the area.”
Mark Dent, chairman of DFAM, said: “I would like to thank the local residents for putting up with us for so long. We have enjoyed a long history at Clifton Road and have many happy memories, but it has been challenging for us also as the town has grown up around the site, equally as frustrating for our customers as it was for the local residents.
“The time to go is long overdue and we are extremely happy to do so. We are excited about our future potential, we can grow the business and offer our customers and the wider rural community a better and more diverse service at Humbleton Park.
“All this has been made possible with the help and cooperation of Darlington Borough Council and the initial vision of our former market manager Stephen Aitkin, who is sadly no longer with us.”
Letters have been sent directly to neighbouring properties to outline in full the measures proposed by Thompsons to minimise disruption during the demolition works at Clifton Road. The works have also been planned in conjunction with the ongoing works on Victoria Road, as part of the Rethinking Victoria Road project.