A HISTORIC former arts centre building could be demolished to make way for future development, council chiefs have confirmed.

Prospective developers are being invited to bid for the 19th Century former Darlington Arts Centre building.

Darlington Borough Council owns the red-brick Victorian building, which closed as an arts venue in 2012.

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The authority is staying tight-lipped on its valuation for the property, which occupies a 7,570sq metre site in a mainly residential area of Darlington’s west end.

Funds raised by the sale of the building will be used to support arts projects in the borough.

Council chiefs will consider a range of proposals for the building – from an arts and community building to full residential development.

Although there are currently no plans to demolish the building, the council is keeping an open mind.

In a statement about the sale process, it said: “There may be a range of development options, from refurbishment to demolition of part of all of the building, although a prospective purchaser must be able to demonstrate that they will deliver a high-quality development.”

The building is not listed, as it is considered to be too heavily altered to be of national significance.

Interested parties will need to complete an official tender form and return it by March 10.

Up to five offers, ranked by price, will go forward to the next stage.

The successful bid will be required to follow a strict timeline, with the aim of presenting a detailed planning application for the site by July 30.

Councillor Steve Harker, cabinet member for efficiency and resources, said: “This is a positive step for the future of the site. The Arts Centre is in a conservation area and we are mindful that any development is sympathetic to the surrounding area.

“We have consulted local residents before preparing the brief and we are aware of their concerns. One of the main ones being that the site is put to good use in the near future and not left to become derelict.

“Once the sale is complete, we can look forward to a development that is sensitive to its surroundings and adds to the local area and, more so, a substantial amount of money that can be reinvested in the arts to continue the legacy of the Arts Centre in Darlington.”

For more information, call the council’s estates team, on 01325-388044, planning on 01325-388037, or visit darlington.gov.uk/landforsale