Proposals that could see Darlington’s cattle market move out of the town centre to a new location are to be debated by Cabinet members.
Efforts to move the Darlington Farmers Auctions Market (DFAM) from a site in Clifton Road to a new, purpose-built, site off the A68 at Humbleton Farm have stalled for several years as DFAM tried to raise funds to complete the project.
The deadlock could be broken if a deal is agreed between Darlington Borough Council, DFAM and other third parties, that would see the council buy 53 acres of land, the majority of which is owned by DFAM, on Neasham Road.
The proposal includes a contractual agreement that DFAM vacate Clifton Road in 18 months from completion of the sale. DFAM would complete its move and begin operating from Humbleton Farm within this time scale.
In turn, the council proposes to develop the land at Neasham Road to provide a mix of properties, including an extensive range of social and affordable houses.
The council’s purchase of the land at Neasham Road is subject to legal and financial checks and would be funded through section 106 funds – a pot of money already collected from housing developers to support the building of social housing – the council’s own housing funds and the proceeds from the sale of other plots of land to developers.
Councillor Chris McEwan, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “Everyone involved with the cattle mart, not to mention residents living nearby, have been keen to see the market move to a much more suitable site for many years.
“The council has worked very hard with DFAM to create this opportunity. It’s been challenging and complex but I believe this is a win-win solution for the Council, DFAM and, above all, the residents.
“By acquiring the land at Neasham Road we can deliver more social and affordable housing for Darlington.
“Furthermore, the Clifton Road site is owned by the council and the site is included as part of the regeneration of Bank Top Station and its surrounding areas.”
Richard Heseltine, Finance Director at DFAM, said: “The land disposal at Neasham Road to Darlington Borough Council will finally see the Mart succeed in its relocation attempt, which has been attempted previously over many decades.
“The Mart at Humbleton Farm will be able to offer improved services in a modern environment, moving from the town centre location presently occupied”.
Graeme Blenkinsopp, of Development Land Agents Wisemove, has assisted in the process of brokering a deal between numerous parties. He said: “This has been a complex proposal, but one that is hugely exciting for the borough of Darlington, and be seen as a positive outcome for all associated, directly and indirectly, both now and for many years to come”