Darlington submits ambitious £20m Levelling Up bid to Government
An ambitious bid has been submitted to Government for £20m to accelerate levelling up across the borough and complement plans to improve our most deprived ward.
Levelling Up Darlington is a package of proposals with a focus on the Northgate area of the town, but that will create opportunities across the borough. The bid includes regeneration proposals for housing, opening up urban green space and improvements to highways and public transport in the area, combined with revitalising the area’s heritage assets.
The bid has been made to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund Round 2, a £4.8bn fund announced in the Spring Statement that will support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects and cultural heritage assets.
If successful, the bid would build on the work already underway to develop the £35m Rail Heritage Quarter around the Head of Steam Railway Museum ahead of the 2025 Bicentenary celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the successful £23.3m Towns Fund bid, which also includes a regeneration project for Northgate.
There are three parts to the bid:
- Regeneration – significant redevelopment of the Northgate ward, supporting the work being done by the Towns Fund to bring internationally recognised heritage assets back into use, while opening up urban green space, housing opportunities and job creation
- Transport - tackling congestion, creating a quality bus corridor and delivering high quality walking and cycling facilities will help address our residents’ concerns on the A68, the busiest arterial route in the town, and a key link connecting Northgate to the wider town
- Culture – building on the pride that exists in our borough around our rail heritage ahead of the Bicentenary celebration of the Stockton and Darlington railway and enhancing the offer of the Rail Heritage Quarter (RHQ) development and delivering a high quality attraction
Councillor Jonathan Dulston, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “Northgate has the potential to be one of our great cultural assets, it is home to many of our heritage treasures and one of our key gateways. The proposals we’ve put together are ambitious but realistic – we know we can deliver.
“At the same time it is also the most deprived ward in town and it is imperative that we act to close the inequality gap that exists by providing better homes, job opportunities and transport links.
“This is a once in a generation chance to transform this part of town, to pull people out of deprivation and to breathe new life into neglected streets, buildings and urban spaces.”
Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “This package of proposals is wide-reaching and ambitious. We want to achieve great things and with the help of this funding to supplement projects that are already ongoing in Northgate and around the Rail Heritage Quarter, we fully believe we can do that.
“For too long Northgate has been overlooked and put on the ‘too difficult’ pile – we aim to change that totally with this funding bid to the Government.”
Both Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington, and Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, have thrown their support behind the Levelling Up Darlington bid.
Mr Gibson said: “Darlington’s number one priority is the economic development of the town and by working in partnership with developers, funders and the local community we have been able to begin delivering a number of key regeneration schemes across the town.
“We are committed to levelling up and we want to ensure that everyone benefits from our economic success. Working together with the Council, local businesses and community leaders we can make sure that our levelling up ambitions directly support our residents to have access to opportunities that enable them to build a better life for themselves and their families.
“Levelling up in the right way will improve employment opportunities, create safer communities and will deliver quality of jobs, which we know can boost residents' life chances, as well as the prosperity of the whole town.”
Mr Houchen said: "I have made it clear that Levelling Up has to be the Government's priority. We must ensure that we continue to deliver on what we promised to the people at the last General Election and this is a great opportunity to do so.
“Darlington plays a vital role in the regeneration of our region, and this bid clearly displays the potential it has to contribute to the agenda. By bringing good-quality, well-paid jobs and increasing the provision of transport links we can continue the work we have started."