CHESTER-le-Street’s award-winning Civic Centre is set to be demolished in the spring to make way for housing.

The pioneering metal and glass structure, which was built by the now-defunct Chester-le-Street District Council in the 1980s, has been empty since late last year.

After the district council’s demise in 2008 it continued as a venue for some Durham County Council meetings and housed several staff.

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The council now shares The Hub on the town’s Front Street with Cestria Community Housing.

No planning application has yet been submitted to redevelop the Newcastle Road site but planning blueprints have identified it for housing.

Craig Martin, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, said that a new community building could be created.

He said: "Our town is losing an asset that all could use.

“It is only right that a share of the money raised is returned to the people of Chester-le-Street.

"Especially when the building was originally built from the tax raised in our town.

"It is not acceptable that Durham County Council continue to divert money away from Chester-le-Street. Not only are we losing a community building but the jobs that go with it."

Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of planning and assets, said: “All of the permissions are in place for the demolition to occur and we are hopeful this can begin in April.

“The land is allocated in the County Durham Plan for housing and this has been the subject of significant consultation.

“Funding for capital programmes is allocated on a strict priority basis right across the county so that the communities most in need can be targeted in a timely way.

“This is a fair, tried and tested approach which remains particularly important during these times of reduced budgets.”

The Civic Centre was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester on May 6, 1982.

Architects Faulkner-Brown, Hendy, Watkinson and Stonor, of Killingworth, conceived the offices as part of a pedestrian route through the town similar to a shopping mall.

The design was highly acclaimed and between 1983 and 1986 it received a number of prestigious architectural awards.