Working to support Darlington town centre

Working to support Darlington town centre
03 July 2018

A report outlining the work being done to support Darlington town centre and improve footfall is to be presented to councillors next week.

Like many towns Darlington will have to respond to announcements from national retailers House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer but there is encouraging news, with 10 new traders opening in the last four months.

The footfall strategy update sets out what has been done to achieve the key elements of the strategy, which was first agreed by the council in November 2017, and also highlights upcoming areas for improvement.

Ian Williams, the council’s Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Resources, said: “We are aware of the challenges we face in the town centre but the council is doing all it can with the limited resources available to make the town a cleaner, greener and more vibrant place for people to visit.

“This report highlights the number of things that we are doing and that we are prepared to work with a range of stakeholders going forward. The successful Food Festival and the upcoming Festival of Ingenuity are good examples of the type of event we want to support to help bring people into town.”

Two hours free parking is set to be introduced to the council’s long stay car parks from Monday.

The historic Victorian Market is an important feature of the town centre – managed by Market Asset Management, with support from the council, they have an ambitious programme of renovations and intend to grow the outdoor market.

The Food and Drink Festival, held in May, proved to be a huge success, with footfall up 8% year on year for the weekend.

The council intend to increase the number of events in the town centre and is supporting the #LoveDarlo initiative to promote retailers and businesses.

There has been additional investment to improve the overall cleanliness of the town and increase its vibrancy with floral displays.

Extra work is underway to tackle vacant properties, including offering business rate relief to small businesses looking to open up in premises in the town centre.

A number of proposals that will take place later in the summer include the introduction of a private sector partner to enforce litter and dog fouling, work by the new Community Safety Unit to look at anti-social behaviour and proposals to improve the Parkgate route into town.

Cabinet members will be asked support a refresh of the Town Centre Masterplan, a long term economic and social strategy for the area.

Cabinet meets at 5pm on Tuesday, in Committee Room 2 at the Town Hall.

 

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