Done deal: Agreement triggers cattle market move
A multi-million pound deal has been completed that will see the long-awaited move of Darlington’s cattle market out of the town centre and pave the way for other developments.
Announced earlier in the year and completed this week, the deal, between Darlington Borough Council and the Darlington Farmers Auction Mart Company (DFAM), sees the council buy 55 acres of land, most of which is owned by DFAM, opposite Mowden Park rugby stadium in Neasham Road.
It also includes a contractual agreement that DFAM vacates the site it occupies at Clifton Road on completion of its new, purpose-built site at Humbleton Farm off the A68.
Efforts to move the cattle market from its town centre location, surrounded by housing, have been ongoing for many years, but hinged on DFAM being able to raise funds for the project.
The sale of the land at Neasham Road, together with other sources of funding including its own reserves, will enable DFAM to move forward with the Humbleton Farm development. Once the new mart is operational, it will enable the possibility of complementary businesses to be based alongside it, creating an ‘agricultural quarter’ for Darlington.
The council will move forward with plans to develop a mixture of housing on the Neasham Road site, including a range of affordable and social housing. The purchase of land at Neasham Road is being paid for by a combination of section 106 funds – money collected from developers to support the building of social housing – as well as the council’s own housing funds and the proposed sale of other plots of land for development.
Councillor Chris McEwan, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “After a lot of false starts, it’s fantastic news that the deal has been done which will finally see the relocation of the cattle market.
“I know it is something the residents living nearby have wanted for a very long time, so it’s great for them and it will free up a key development site next to Bank Top railway station, for which we have ambitious redevelopment plans.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to everyone involved, including Jenny Chapman MP, who has been very supportive and ward Councillor Cyndi Hughes who has worked tirelessly on behalf of residents. And let’s not forget the council officers and the DFAM team – Andrew Armstrong, Richard Heseltine and their agent Graham Blenkinsopp of Wisemove. They have all worked closely together to get this deal over the line.
“Yes, it has been a complex and challenging process. I have said before and I honestly do believe that this is a win-win solution for all parties – DFAM, the Council, the local rural community and most importantly residents.”
Richard Heseltine, DFAM finance director, said: “It’s no secret that there have been previous attempts to complete the move of the mart, so it’s very pleasing to have completed a deal that will pave the way for us to commence with the build at Humbleton Park.”
Andrew Armstrong, manager and director at DFAM, added: “The new agricultural centre and park will be an ideal hub and fantastic opportunity for local and national agricultural based businesses. The new build will be a state of the art auction centre from which the local farming community will benefit greatly.”