Darlington Football Club and Darlington Rugby Football Club are delighted to share the first graphic impressions of the new infrastructure plans for Blackwell Meadows. The pictures shown here provide an overview of the latest planned structure and layout of the first team pitch area and clubhouse facilities. Click the images to open a full-sized version in a new window.
Considerable progress continues to be made in finalising the design and detail from which a comprehensive planning application can be submitted which not only embraces all the requirements to ensure that the facilities meet FA ground Grading Category C but also addresses necessary improvements to the clubhouse, car park amenities and accessibility. Once this application has been made, further details will be released to fans and members. The clubs can confirm that initial survey shave now been completed which allow the planning process progress to the next stages, whilst working ever more closely with Darlington Borough Council.
Until such time as the planning application for the entire site has been approved, it remains extremely difficult to provide a specific time line as to when the work will commence and, more importantly, be completed. However, discussions with the Council have gathered pace in recent weeks, with all parties working towards ensuring that the Football Club will be playing its first team matches at Blackwell Meadows at the earliest possible opportunity next season whilst leaving no stones unturned in respect of the detailed requirements and ensuring all construction, health & safety etc. matters are fully complied with.
Notwithstanding the uncertainty on time lines for playing matches at Blackwell Meadows, the move ‘home’ has already begun. Quaker Retail is now based within the facilities, Martin Gray’s pre-season training sessions are being held on the site and the Youth teams continue to centre their activities around Blackwell Meadows. The facilities are also now the preferred location for the Club to hold meetings and other events (such as the recent launch of the new home shirt for next season).
The total costs for the entire site development continue to be finalised too – varying only as planning modifications and quotes for work costs are obtained. Funding for the site is being split between costs that are essential to comply with the FA ground grading requirements (being borne primarily by the Football Club), improvements to the clubhouse facilities (being borne primarily by Darlington RFC)and other shared costs.
Whilst most fans and members would like a definitive indication of the respective costs, these are still being negotiated with various potential suppliers and the officials of both clubs agree that publicizing such detail at this stage would potentially provide each club with a competitive disadvantage in those ongoing discussions.
The overriding proviso for both clubs is to meet the required standards at the least cash cost possible. Once firmly embedded within the heart of Blackwell Meadows, the football club will continue to develop its exciting partnership with the rugby club to exploit and grow all potential commercial and facility opportunities in the interest of both clubs and the wider community.
In the meantime all possible football, rugby and community related grant options are being fully explored with professional advice being taken. The exact quantum of the grants cannot be confirmed at this stage until the detail behind the planning application is also finalised and agreed – although up to 50% of qualifying expenditure, and potentially more for certain elements of the project, are eligible for such funding.
As soon as this information has been obtained, both clubs will be able to progress discussions with respective potential funders. The Football Club will advise fans of a target amount to be raised through additional fund raising initiatives. It is hoped that a definitive target can be set within the next8-10 weeks.
The return to Darlington project is being driven entirely by a number of experienced professionals – all of whom volunteer their input over and above the ongoing demands of their day jobs and family commitments. Officials of both Darlington FC and Darlington RFC would like to place on record their heartfelt thanks to these individuals for their significant contribution to the project to date and look forward to working with them to complete the project as soon as practicable.