Tesco proposed a development in Darlington town centre in partnership with the Council. The plans involved Tesco building a store on the site of the existing Town Hall and bus depot and providing a replacement town hall. The community joined a Say No To Tesco campaign formed by local traders.
Darlington Borough Council worked with Tesco for over three years, to prepare detailed plans for an area of the town centre next to the ancient Parish Church of St Cuthbert and adjacent to the Market Square. Proposals were presented in August 2006. In the proposed plan the existing Town Hall and Arriva Bus Depot would be demolished to be replaced by a Tesco superstore and car park with 130 apartments incorporated into three sides of the store. Tesco would provide the Council with a new Town Hall at a cost of £14million to be built on what is currently town centre parking.
Opposition to the proposals was strong, led by local shopkeepers and market traders who formed the Say No To Tesco campaign. They had the support of a wide range of groups within the town. A petition was presented to the leader of the Council on 20th October which reached 10,900 signatures, representing 10% of the population of the town and the largest petition ever presented to the Council. The local daily newspaper, the Northern Echo, has also held a poll with similar results to the Council's consultation.
The Council undertook a two month consultation with the local community involving a series of roadshows, a system of voting cards and the opportunity to write or e-mail views for consideration. The deadline for views was 13 October 2006. The consultation was followed by a face-to-face poll by Ipsos-Mori, which found that 76% of people were against the development. The Council stated at the outset that it would not go ahead with the proposed scheme unless it had the support of the community.