A HISTORIC covenant will not prevent Darlington’s Crown Street Library from closing, according to Darlington Borough Council.

The potential existence of a restrictive covenant has been highlighted by campaigners opposed to the potential move of the Victorian library to the Dolphin Centre.

It is believed that the Grade II listed property could be subject to a covenant that stipulates it must be used as a library.

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said they believe the library was subject to a covenant that stated it should be ‘used for purposes of a public library forever’.

The covenant is believed to have been among deeds and documents lost in the 1970s.

Its existence has given hope to scores of campaigners hoping to save the popular library.

Darlington Borough Council’s spokeswoman said restrictive covenants imposed on the library prior to 2010 were still enforceable.

While the covenant would not prevent the library from moving, it could restrict the future use of the venue.

However Darlington’s council leader Bill Dixon said the covenant will make no difference to the fate of the venue, which could be sold off under a proposed schedule of devastating budget cuts.

Cllr Dixon said: “Even if there is one, we just cannot afford for the library to stay there.

“The covenant cannot overrule the facts of life - it would cost a lot of money to stay there.

“If we don’t move the library, then the Dolphin Centre is at risk – part of this plan is to keep the Dolphin Centre going as well.

“I think people will eventually look back and see that the Dolphin Centre will provide a better facility.”

The Pease family are currently attempting to locate a copy of the covenant.

Matthew Pease – a descendent of Edward’s brother Joseph – said the family would not force the council to abide by it.

He said: “We don’t want to make things difficult for the people of Darlington.

“If we have any influence, it will be to support whatever proves to be in the best interests of the town, in the spirit of the gift that was given.”