Work to improve a vital link between Darlington’s railway station and the town centre and create a safer, greener route for pedestrians and cyclists is underway.
The Rethinking Victoria Road project, funded by a grant from Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Sustainable Access to Employment Fund and the council’s local transport budget, is part of a wider aim to regenerate the areas around the station ahead of the planned redevelopment of the station itself.
It also coincides with the beginning of work to secure and redevelop the Clifton Road auction mart site, another key opportunity to breathe new life into the area.
A public consultation was carried out in the Victoria Road area to gather opinions from business owners, residents and commuters as to what concerns they had about travelling in the area and what changes they wished to see. These have been used to inform the design, in particular addressing concerns about speeding traffic and the difficulties crossing the road near Clifton Court Medical Practice.
The scheme will see the layout of Victoria Road, between St Cuthbert’s Way and the station portico entrance, changed to create more space for pedestrians, as well as facilities for cyclists.
Traffic lights at the junction of Clifton Road and a 20mph speed limit will be introduced to tackle issues around speeding in the area, while urban planting and new lighting will be introduced to improve the overall look of the route.
The first phase of work has started in Backhouse Street and the back lane to the rear of Victoria Road on its north side – this will create some parking spaces and changing to a one way system in Backhouse Street, with a contraflow cycle route to connect with the crossing on St Cuthbert’s Way.
The next phase of the redevelopment work is on Victoria Road itself, between St Cuthberts Way and Clifton Road, and is expected to last until January. During the first phase this section of Victoria Road will be closed westbound (in the direction of the town centre) to traffic, with a diversion along Park Place to Parkgate.
Traffic in the direction of the station will not be impacted. Pedestrian routes will also remain open. Bus services 3/3A and X26/27 will follow diversion routes – information will be published in advance of work starting.
The final phase of the works, between Clifton Road and the eastern end of Victoria Road, are due to take place early next year.
The area directly outside the station entrance on Victoria Road will be a later phase of works as part of the station redevelopment.
Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “Victoria Road is a key gateway to the town, one of the first places visitors to Darlington see when they step off the train and we want it to better reflect the aspirations of the town.
“The Rethinking Victoria Road project, alongside the wider regeneration opportunities for the area that come with the planned station redevelopment, is an excellent chance to make real, lasting change that will benefit residents and visitors alike.
“We have committed to making improvements in Darlington’s cycling and walking routes and this is a great example. Hopefully it will encourage more people to access the station on their bike or on foot.”
More information on the scheme can be found at www.darlington.gov.uk/transport-and-streets/rethinking-victoria-road-consultation/