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A campaign is on to register Darlington’s 18-hectare historic parkland as a town green. Our members Michael and Angela Green of the Parkland Heritage Network tell the story.
The historic Blackwell parkland, on the south side of Darlington, is the last of the town’s Georgian pleasure parks, dating back to the 1700s. It first appeared as a parkland on Greenwood’s map of 1820.
The park has many historic assets and is rich in wildlife. There is also striking evidence of farming in medieval times. It is a valuable amenity space, with over 600 trees and an ancient pond.
With the listed Blackwell Grange, the park is owned by Darlington Borough Council, having been purchased in the 1950s by Darlington Corporation.
In 2018 the adjacent meadows (five hectares) were sold to developers, and important habitats were destroyed. The next plans were for housing on the parkland.
We helped to form the Parkland Heritage Network which joined the Open Spaces Society. As a result of our intervention, the parkland has gained three designations in the local plan: urban parkland within Greenwood’s 1820 boundary, green wedge, and local wildlife site (covering half of it).
That’s a good start, but not enough to save the park for ever. So, we are pressing the council to register the site as a town green, for future generations, with a restoration plan.
We spoke to candidates from four parties (Conservative, Green, Labour, and Liberal Democrats) before the May 2023 local election, and all favoured protecting the park by registering it as a green. This is promising. See rb.gy/rchoa for the group’s video.