Property development and investment group Terrace Hill has received the go-ahead for a £30m leisure regeneration scheme in the region which will generate 500 jobs.
As a result of the green light given by Darlington Borough Council’s Planning Committee, Terrace Hill intends to start development work by mid next year with completion expected in autumn 2015.
The Feethams Leisure scheme, which involves the regeneration of a 1.9-acre former bus station in Darlington town centre is expected to create about 500 new jobs – making it one of the town’s largest employer sites.
It will be anchored by a nine-screen multiplex Vue cinema and include an 80-bed Premier Inn Hotel, as well as a number of restaurants, bars and shops. Lettings have already been secured to national operators Nandos and Prezzo, with two further restaurant units under offer to other national brands. And alongside national organisations, Feethams is welcoming proposals from independent businesses that would like to relocate to the development.
The scheme has been designed by local architects Niven with style, innovation and sustainability as key factors. During a public consultation earlier in the year at the Dolphin Centre, residents voiced their support for the project which will include 600 car parking spaces near to the site, along with an additional 80 spaces on the Feethams Leisure site itself.
Although the plans initially received objections from English Heritage, who feared the height of the buildings could impact on the nearby 12th Century St Cuthbert’s Church, and Darlington Association on Disability which expressed its concerns over disabled access. A raised landscaped garden with seating will now be created which will be accessed by either steps or a ramp.
The arrival of VUE will mark a new beginning in Darlington’s film-loving legacy as the town boasted the most cinema seats per head of population in the UK in 1939. Philip Leech, chief executive of Terrace Hill, said: “We are working on a number of planned leisure development schemes across the UK. Leisure is a sector with strong occupier demand and with regional economies starting to improve we forsee increasing opportunities for us in this area.’’