BUILDING work on an office block that will house 400 civil servants is well under way, with the steel frame starting to take shape.

Some 350 tonnes of steel will be used in the construction of the Department for Education (DfE) offices, which will adjoin Darlington Town Hall.

Steel for the 42,000 sq ft offices has been manufactured on Teesside and finished in Peterlee.

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The installation of the framework follows two months of preparation works, in which 131 piles were driven and foundations set.

Work on the steel frame will take approximately eight weeks with the building set to be complete in early 2015.

The £8m development will accommodate about 400 DfE workers as they move out of their existing offices at Mowden Hall, ensuring that the 400 jobs stay in Darlington.

Situated behind the town hall, the new offices will form a ‘public sector hub’ which will allow the DfE and Darlington Borough Council to share facilities, such as reception and meeting rooms.

It is hoped that sharing a location will also allow joint apprenticeship schemes and shared career progression for staff across both organisations.

Council leader Bill Dixon said: “The installation of the steel work will give people a good indication of the physical scale of the building and will enable passers-by to begin to visualise what the offices will look like once complete.

“I am delighted to have been part of the process that has seen the protection of important jobs for Darlington; watching the building take shape gives the scheme a greater sense of reality and offers a huge boost to confidence in the town centre.”

DfE permanent secretary Chris Wormald added: “There are great opportunities for DfE to share services with the council and to create a really exciting and innovative partnership between central and local government.”