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Councillor backs campaign to save Darlington's North Cemetery chapel
AN action group has formed to save an historic North-East chapel from possible demolition.
The chapel at North Cemetery in Darlington was donated to the town by the Pease family in the 1800s but now Darlington Borough Council wants to sell it.
If a buyer cannot be found, the chapel could be dismantled “stone by stone” according to ward councillor Anne-Marie Curry who is supporting the campaign to save the building.
Coun Curry said: “It opened in 1877 for the community and we want to put it back to the community.
“Some people don’t believe we can do it, but we believe we can.
“There are people from even outside Darlington who are willing to donate money to help us raise enough to save the chapel.”
She added: “Darlington’s heritage is continually being eroded but it should be saved and celebrated as something to be proud of.”
The group are formulating a bid to Darlington Council to list the building as a community asset and if successful they will then have six-months to come up with a viable bid to secure its future.
Coun Curry said that if enough funding and support is won, then the chapel would ideally be turned into a community building incorporating a café, flower shop and a meeting place for local youths.
There are also ambitions to involve charities to encourage disabled people to engage with the building’s renovation and future use.
Berni Smith, administrator for the Darlington As It Looked 1880 – 1980 facebook page which first highlighted the issue, said the campaign was in its infancy but has high hopes of transforming the chapel into a popular community hub.
She added: “In Darlington in general we are losing so many buildings that could possibly be saved.
“We as the residents need to know whether any feasibility studies are written before they are knocked down, or whether they are being knocked down willy nilly.
“If they can’t be saved for one reason or another, then fair enough, but people are being left in the dark and don’t know what has been tried - we think the chapel can and should be saved.”
A Darlington Council spokesman confirmed that the building has been declared “surplus” and approved for disposal but is not yet on the market.
The campaign group will next meet at the Old Vic on Victoria Road on October 3 at 7pm and welcomes anybody with an interest in supporting the project.
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