Saturday, 5 July 2008

Feethams Consultation

Oh dear! Having given us "cemetary" last week, today the Northern Echo's front page teaser says, "Feethams revamp: Plan for former Darlington football ground. Page 5." Yes, Darlo's former football ground was called Feethams, but this article is about the area covered by the old bus station and the Beaumont Street car parks. Such sloppy sub-editing does this venerable newspaper no credit.

And when you see the two "alternatives" shown on page 5, the plans look so uninspiring that the public's view is likely to be, "So what?" In fact, the plans shown in the Echo look boring, but try to imagine what it could look like, especially in the "mixed use" areas, where there are many possibilities for interesting small-scale ideas.

Our huge "Say No to Tesco" campaign, which gave rise to the exercise that has led to the publication of these alternative plans, showed that the people of Darlington wanted this area to be innovative and exciting with significant public space. What these plans reveal is a redevelopment largely based on huge car parks, offices and - despite Cllr Williams' promise that the area would never be used for that purpose - a supermarket.

What's more, John Anderson, who apparently is the Council's assistant director for regeneration, says, "Food retailing could feature in this scheme...whether that would be Tesco or Waitrose or whoever, it is up to those interested." Actually, it should be up to the people of Darlington.

When the consultation process starts, it's up to everyone to get involved and press for a regeneration of the area based on human-scale, mixed and publicly accessible developments.

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