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Darlington regeneration blueprint suffers £20m funding blow
A FLAGSHIP urban regeneration masterplan faces an uncertain future after missing out on millions of pounds of vital public funding.
Darlington Borough Council’s much-heralded Town Centre Fringe scheme is a long-term project aimed at revitalising economically deprived areas of the town.
Adopted last year, the plan initially included provision for more than 600 new homes.
But papers prepared ahead of a meeting of the council’s cabinet next month reveal that the project has missed out on an anticipated £20m of investment from the Homes and Communities Agency.
The report states: “[The loss] adversely affects the viability, deliverability and proposed timing of planned new development in the Town Centre Fringe, including about 650 new homes envisaged by 2026.
“Although there are other streams of public funding that the council will try to access, these are not likely to be enough to deliver all the flood mitigation, green infrastructure, land remediation, land assembly, transport infrastructure and removal of other development constraints needed for the vision to be substantially realised by 2026.”
The report, which asks cabinet members to agree the sale for housing of eight pieces of land totalling more than 40 acres, adds that the Town Centre Fringe site will still need to accommodate some 300 homes if the council is to meet its commitment to providing land for new houses.
Meanwhile, the amount of homes predicted to be built on another of the council’s embryonic long-term development projects, Central Park, has also reduced.
Because of interest in the development for employment uses and uncertainty surrounding the housing market, the council is revising down by 100 its target for the amount of housing on the site.
The predicted shortfalls in the Town Centre Fringe and Central Park areas means that land for 450 homes now needs to be identified.
Eight parcels of council-owned land have been identified – mostly urban, with the exception of the largest site, 25-acre Muscar House Farm, on the north-easternmost tip of the developed area of Darlington borough.
Public consultation on the suitability for housing of most of these has not been carried out.
Most were not included in the draft Making and Growing Places document, which set out areas for future development and was extensively consulted on last summer.
The cabinet meets at 5pm on Tuesday (February 4), at Darlington Town Hall.
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