Family home faces demolition – to clear the way for a CYCLE PATH ‘We don’t want to move’


The council-owned property in Darlington, in County Durham, has been home to three different generations of the Austin family. However, if Darlington Borough Council green-lights a development of A68 in nearby Cockerton, they face the prospect of the house, in Carmel Road North, being bulldozed.

Lesley Austin, 47, said the uncertainty was “taking a huge toll” on her, her husband Richie and their two children – but also vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to stay put.

The penny only dropped about what was in the offing when the couple noticed their house had disappeared from an artist’s impression image included in council plans published this week.

Mrs Austin said: “I really don’t grasp why demolishing a house and changing the road is going to make any difference.

“I’m not moving at my own free will here. It’s a big, quirky old house and I’m going to have to get rid of things that mean a lot to me.

“I don’t want to lose it and I will fight tooth and nail to keep it but I think it’s a case of it already being passed and they’re just waiting for funding.”

Two years ago, neighbours learned of rumours suggesting the house had been earmarked for demolition – but the news still came as a shock, Mrs Austin, a private healthcare assistant, admitted.

She said: ‘It was hard when my friend sent me a screenshot of the artist’s impression.

“It really rattled me because it was the first time we had seen the house not on the corner.”

The proposed development will involve the redesign of existing mini roundabouts on the A68 and at the western end of Woodland Road, plus the nearby roundabout which links Woodland Road with Carmel Road North and Staindrop Road.

However, Mrs Austin suggested the concept was fundamentally flawed.

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“The kids struggle with not knowing about the future.

“It has and it is taking a huge toll on all four of us in different ways.

“I am part boxed-up and ready to move. I have had to de-home my home. It’s not a home anymore it’s a house.”

Councillor Andy Keir, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for local services, said: “While these proposals are at an early stage we have already had a number of meetings and discussions with the tenant of the council-owned property.

“There isn’t a need for this and people are all of the same opinion: it’s not going to make any difference.”

Understandably, the worrying situation has left the family in limbo.

Mrs Austin said: ”The council are trying to send us to the other end of town with the houses they’ve offered.

“The decision to demolish a residential building is never taken lightly but the constraints on space available in this area mean that if the proposed designs do go ahead, it will be necessary on this occasion.”

He added: “We are mindful that the tenant is being asked to vacate their long-term home, however a number of suitable alternatives have been offered – discussions which were initially progressing positively.

“We are committed to working with the tenant in a positive manner.”

The wider public consultation was open until February 11 and Mr Keir encouraged people with views on the proposals to email [email protected]


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