RESIDENTS living near a station set to undergo a multi-million pound transformation have been issued with reassurances over the future of their homes following concerns the properties could be the subject of compulsory purchase orders.
Darlington Borough Council leader Councillor Heather Scott said the authority was only looking to buy three properties as part of its ambition to create a rail gateway into the Tees Valley at Bank Top station that can accommodate future demands for national, regional and local passenger rail services as well as freight.
Cllr Scott was responding to mounting speculation over the effect that the scheme to redevelop the station and its surrounding area would have on homes and residents’ quality of life.
Park East councillor Cyndi Hughes said there were “grave concerns” among many residents of Pensbury Street, Waverley Terrace, Park Lane and Clifton Road and that “uncertainty and prevarication” over the scheme was creating property blight and damaging house values.
She called for residents to be included in meaningful discussions about the future of the area, and Cllr Scott said the authority was set to launch a public consultation.
The scheme will see major changes to the area, including the demolition of the cattle market site and improvements to Victoria Road.
The authority views that improvement of the link between the town centre and the station along Victoria Road, enhancing “the environment and experience of all users through hard and soft landscaping changes”, as key to the overall project.
The first phase of the plans would see improvements to entrances for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians on the Neasham Road and Victoria Road sides of the station, including a new multi-storey car park.
It is understood those changes will be started later this year.
After the authority’s leading members approved a proposal in principle to the council using its compulsory purchase order powers, enabling it to buy homes without the consent of owners, Cllr Scott said only one residential property was affected by the proposals.
She said the council had already agreed to buy a house of multiple occupancy, on the corner of Waverley Terrace, and stressed that no other properties on the street would be affected.
Cllr Scott added the other two affected properties were commercial premises and that the authority hoped to be able to negotiate a deal with the owners.
Cllr Scott said: “We are hoping to avoid going down the road of making compulsory purchase orders. All the residents of Waverley Terrace have had letters saying that the houses are safe.
“The other streets that concerns have been raised over will benefit from the improvements and it is likely to have a positive effect on house prices.”
To offset parking concerns until the multi-storey car park is completed, some of the mart area will be used to increase parking.
Cllr Scott said she was very optimistic that scheme, which will be partly funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority, would also receive government funding.