Land deal boosts town’s sporting chances | 14 December 10

Community sport in Darlington has been given a major boost with the signing of a deal between Darlington Rugby Club and Darlington Borough Council.

Robyn Peat of George F White, Keith Wilkinson of Ward Hadaway, Darlington Rugby Club chairman Mike Wilkinson and Mike Crawshaw of Darlington Borough Council

Pass masters – (from left) Robyn Peat of George F White, Keith Wilkinson of Ward Hadaway, Darlington Rugby Club chairman Mike Wilkinson and Mike Crawshaw of Darlington Borough Council celebrate the new agreement to boost sporting facilities in the town.

The agreement, which law firm Ward Hadaway advised on, will see council land next to Darlington RC’s ground at Blackwell Meadows on the outskirts of the town transformed to provide two state of the art sports pitches.

The new pitches will be used by Darlington College students and will also be available for sports clubs in the local community to hire when not being used by the college or the rugby club.

Darlington Rugby Club is leasing the pitches from the council and will manage them on the local authority’s behalf.

The arrangement means that users of the new pitches will also get access to the rugby club’s changing room, bar and clubhouse facilities next door.

Mike Wilkinson, chairman of Darlington Rugby Club, said: “This is an exciting opportunity and we see it as the beginning of the development of what will be one of the premier multi-sports facilities available to the community in the North-East.

“It allows Darlington College to continue providing high quality sports facilities to its students, it expands the sporting facilities available to the local community and as Darlington Rugby Club approaches its 150th anniversary it enables us to extend our facilities to a new audience

“We have always had a very strong relationship with the local community and this agreement means we can demonstrate this commitment and build on it.

“It also means that the facilities which we can offer to our own members are also extended.”

John Williams, Leader of Darlington Council, said: “This land will now be put to good use as sports facilities, not only for students at Darlington College, but also for the local community.

“The council is committed to promoting sporting activities and I am delighted that these new pitches are to be created.”

Law firm Ward Hadaway provided legal advice to Darlington Rugby Club on the agreement.

Keith Wilkinson, associate in the property team at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team on the deal.

Keith said: “We are delighted to have helped Darlington Rugby Club on this agreement, which provides an elegant solution to a number of issues.

“It is very rewarding to work on a scheme which sees several different organisations working towards a common goal and that provides the local community with something extra.”

Robyn Peat, Partner with George F White Chartered Surveyors, who acted for the rugby club and negotiated the deal on the land to be used for the new pitches, said: “This is a great outcome for all concerned. Sport plays a positive role in the lives of everyone and these two additional sports pitches in Darlington will really benefit the area.”

The agreement has been partly prompted by the development of Darlington College in the Central Park area of the town near the train station.

The college’s expansion and the establishment of a new Darlington campus for the University of Teesside has meant that land previously used for the college’s sports pitches is now being used for the new buildings.

The new sporting facilities at Blackwell Meadows are due to be completed before the end of December 2010.

Tim Grant, Principal of Darlington College said: “This is great news for our students and our partners in the community whom we serve.”