A COUNCIL leader has bemoaned the loss millions of pounds in public funding that has left an urban regeneration masterplan with an uncertain future.
The Northern Echo reported on Thursday (January 30) that Darlington Borough Council’s flagship Town Centre Fringe project had been denied investment from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) worth up to £20m.
The project is aimed at revitalising run down areas on the edge of Darlington town centre, including the banks of the River Skerne.
It was to have included provision for the development of some 650 homes, including affordable housing.
The loss of HCA support has caused the council to more than halve its expectation of the number of homes the project will eventually include.
Council leader Bill Dixon said the funding that had been due to come from the HCA was ‘legacy money’ left over after the closure of regional development agency (RDA) One North East.
Asked whether the loss of funding was a major blow for the Town Centre Fringe, he replied: “It’s not good, because we were promised that money.
“It was recycled from the old RDA and what we think is going to happen is that the Treasury is basically going to take it back.
“That is North-East money that was to be used for projects such as this.
“Now we have been told that the Treasury is not in a position to honour it.
“The annoying thing is this money was promised to us and we went out to public consultation [on the Town Centre Fringe] on the basis that this funding was coming.”
Asked what the loss of such a large chunk of potential funding meant for the future of the project, Coun Dixon added: “We will have to look again to see what we can afford.
“Some of the land will not be built on immediately that was going to be.
“We will need to go back to the plans and see what we can afford.”
The cabinet meets on Tuesday (February 4), when the Town Centre Fringe is likely to be discussed as part of a debate about plans to sell off council-owned land for future housing developments.