The Darlington Markets Partnership
Project Value – £3.5 million
Delivery Date – Ongoing
in 2017 Darlington Borough Council entered into a 99-year partnership with the private sector and staff were transferred by TUPE. The Operator assumed responsibility for developing and managing the Market Hall and the town’s twice-weekly Open Market.
The Market Hall and its clocktower remain iconic symbols for the town and date from 1865. Regenerating the Market is central to the Council’s ‘Town Centre First’ regeneration strategy aimed at attracting private investment to the town and differentiating it from regional competition.
£3.5m has been committed to repairs and improvements to support the 40 or so 6-day SME businesses in the Market. Careful design has introduced F&B and communal seating uses to create an evening and weekend attraction and outlet for local Producers. An innovative business model offers start-up and SME businesses a ‘bricks ‘n mortar’ presence on easy-in/easy-out terms with modest operating cost. It also offers FFM – Fewer Food Miles – and a showcase for Craft products e.g. textiles, fashions, giftware and jewellery
The traditional 2-day Open Market has been expanded with a range of new events e.g. the Darlington Food Festival awarded ‘Best in the UK’ by NABMA in 2018. Partnering with the Council and others has encouraged more footfall with Market Square events e.g. a ‘Festival of Ingenuity’ and ‘Festival of Thrift’.
Other management initiatives include low-cost workshop and office space for service-based businesses. Policy support is available through both the Council and Tees Valley Combined Authority.
- Public/ Private Partnership
- Focus for the Town Centre regeneration strategy
- £3m+ private investment
- Award-winning Food Festival
- Outlet for local Producers and Growers
- F&B introduced to encourage evening use
- Expanded 2-day Open Market
- Extended trading hours for evening and weekends
- Outreach education and training programme