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Investing in the future

The announcement that Darlington had been chosen as the new home of an economic campus for a number of high-profile Government departments, moving staff and roles to the North East as part of the ‘levelling-up’ agenda, was a major coup for the town. Here, Ian Williams, chief executive of Darlington Borough Council (pictured, below), explains what the arrival of Westminster heavyweights means for the local economy and how inward investment is helping the town thrive.


These are exciting times for Darlington. 

The level of inward investment, from both the public and private sectors, is unprecedented, creating opportunities for individuals and businesses alike.

The arrival of the Government’s economic campus is undoubtedly a major boost for the town. 

More than 1400 civil servants are expected to be based in the heart of the town centre, in a hub now officially named the Darlington Economic Campus.

In total, seven Government departments will be based here, initially in the council’s own Feethams office development before moving to a dedicated campus that will be built on the brownfield Brunswick site, close to the railway station.

The arrival of the campus is not just a chance for people in this region to secure quality jobs, but also for businesses across the professional services sector locally to benefit. 

Already, we have seen interest from firms in accounting, financial services, legal and education looking to move to Darlington for the first time, or expand their existing operation in the town, in order to strengthen their connections with the influential figures now based here.

Our ambition and drive as a town to boost our position nationally, as well as regionally, saw us chosen ahead of strong competition.

We boast a highly-skilled workforce, with an estimated 1.6 million working-age people within an hour’s commute of Darlington, supported by nationally-recognised further education and training provision, to ensure local talent comes through as the economic campus grows.

It’s not just our business credentials that saw us stand out, though. 

At just two-and-a-half hours for a direct train journey from London Kings Cross, we’re the ideal location for a Westminster satellite campus. 

Add to that, the investment by Tees Valley Combined Authority and the Department for Transport in a comprehensive improvement programme for Darlington Railway Station, and the adjacent land, which will provide faster, more frequent services north and south, and an improved visitor experience.

The economic campus will bolster an already strong public sector presence in the town, with Student Finance England, the Disclosure and Barring Service and the Department for Education employing hundreds of people.

The long-term aim is that Darlington will become the North’s ‘Little London’, a thriving hub of financial and professional services supporting the Government and the economic campus.

The direct investment by the Government in creating the economic campus is backed up by our work locally to create opportunities for businesses and individuals to thrive and grow. 

In the last decade, targeted, strategic investment, led by Darlington Borough Council, has seen the development of a number of high-quality business parks and facilities suitable for key sectors. 

Central Park, just a few minutes’ walk from the railway station, has been transformed from abandoned rail sidings into a thriving development that supports housing and further and higher education alongside Business Central, which offers incubator and grow-on space for knowledge-based SMEs, as well as our newly- completed £8 million state-of-the-art office and lab-space facility Innovation Central, pictured above.

The cornerstone of Central Park is CPI, a world-leader in the development and commercialisation of next-generation products and processes in the biologics and healthcare sectors. 

The success of CPI has led to spin-off projects on Central Park, including the National Horizons Centre – a Teesside University-led facility housing cutting-edge technologies and facilities to help advance research in the biosciences and healthcare sectors.

Further work planned this year will see the remaining sections of Central Park cleared and new access roads completed to open up development plots for potential office and lab space, with a view to creating new opportunities for companies looking to benefit from the expertise of the organisations already based there.

We also have a strong tradition of manufacturing and engineering in Darlington, and a proud history as the birthplace of passenger railways. 

The ingenuity and forward-thinking of our previous generations continues to live on through firms today. 

With world-class expertise in low-emission engines, led by Cummins, a strong offshore and subsea sector, and products for the freight, industrial and light rail industry, Darlington businesses are a driving force nationally for engineering, design and advanced manufacturing. 

The development of Ingenium Parc, a 40-hectare site close to the A66 and a short drive from Teesside International Airport, is anticipated to lead to more than 2000 jobs by 2036, with the site open to development for engineering, manufacturing and logistics firms. 

The nearby Symmetry Park, home to the Amazon site, and neighbouring, newly-marketed, 24-acre industrial park Fabric, are exciting new developments with easy access to the A66, while Faverdale Industrial Estate, next to the A1, is also seeing growth and investment, with developers hungry for opportunity.

This is a time of real progress for Darlington. 

Huge investment has been secured and ambitious projects are underway. 

We have all the components for success and we’re looking to keep growing. 


Darlington Business Summit

October 5-7

Find out more about the opportunities and support available in Darlington at the sixth annual event. 

The Summit will include a business-to-business exhibition, jobs fair and business support events with focused workshops on key themes around funding, marketing and skills development. 

Visit or sign up for more information at 

[email protected]