Darlington FC ambition to build stadium at Skerningham in doubt over planning rule

Bill Edgarin Stadium News

An ambition to build Darlington Football Club's new stadium at the site of a proposed new garden village is in doubt.

The Quakers have identified the Skerningham and Faverdale areas as potential locations for the new stadium, which could include additional sports, retail and hospitality facilities.

The Skerningham site, to the north of the town, is rumoured to be favoured but local planning regulations mean the complex wouldn't be able to be built to its full potential.

The new stadium, which will allow capacity of between 5,000 and 8,000 fans, was initially planned to be built in time for the 2024-25 season, but is now thought to be delayed by a year.

It will include new training facilities to help provide a sustainable and regular income stream for the Quakers, which became fan-owned in 2012.

Club chief executive David Johnston has revealed an ambition to build the new stadium within a complex of retail shops including drive-through restaurants to attract more visitors and help partly fund the move.

The site of the proposed Skerningham Village development. (Image: The Northern Echo)

However, the Skerningham Design Code, which was approved by Darlington Borough Council cabinet members on Monday, says hot food takeaways are not allowed within the new development. Such regulations should rule out the site for the stadium's development, but campaigners remain concerned.

A spokesperson for Skerningham Woodland Action Group said: "Many people in existing local communities close to Skerningham, who should really get a meaningful say and answers to their questions, are concerned there has been no mention of a potential Skerningham football stadium both in the local plan and design code.

"Even though many members of the public from these surrounding local communities mentioned their concerns and asked for clarification about the stadium in their submitted comments during both the design code public consultations."

In contrast to the proposed Skerningham development, plans for more drive-through restaurants and cafes at Faverdale are due to be approved.

Starbucks is due to open a new drive-through cafe at Faverdale later this year (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

The club has spent the last six years playing at Blackwell Meadows, having opted to groundshare with Darlington RFC after leaving their previous temporary home at Bishop Auckland. However, they do not own the stadium, and last year announced their intention to relocate as part of a long term plan to return to the Football League.

A detailed costing of the new stadium has now been drawn up as the club discovers what commercial revenue is needed to cover the annual mortgage of the stadium, so fans don't have to cover the costs.

Hinting at a potential move to the Skerningham site, Darlington's MP Peter Gibson said: "I do hope that full consideration is given to helping Darlington Football Club secure a permanent ground."

Darlington Borough Council was contacted for comment.


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