SCORES of one-bedroom flats will be created when a former tax office is transformed this summer.

The 47 town centre properties are set to be housed in Darlington’s Regent House, which has stood empty on the town’s Commerical Street for several years.

Flats built as part of the development will, once finished, be offered as social housing.

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Demand for one-bedroom properties in the region has grown dramatically since the implementation of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ left many single people classed as under-occupying their homes.

The flats at Regent House are being built in partnership with Darlington Borough Council by Coast & Country Housing as part of their Empty Homes project, which aims to address the issue of long-term empty homes while providing training, volunteering and work opportunities.

The development will be funded by the national Homes and Communities Agency, which provides investment for new affordable housing and the improvement of existing social housing.

Iain Sim, chief executive of Coast & Country Housing said: “Bringing empty properties back into use has a very positive effect on the local community.

“By contributing to the regeneration of area, tackling disrepair, bringing about improvements to the neighbourhood and alleviating concerns about semi-derelict properties and their role in attracting anti-social behaviour and crime, Coast & Country aims to build stronger communities for the future.”

He added: “This exciting partnership with Darlington Borough Council will bring Regent House back to life and provide quality, affordable housing.”

Situated in a prime town centre location, the properties are expected to be ready for occupation by spring next year with building work scheduled to begin at the end of the month.

The development has been welcomed by Councillor Veronica Copeland, the council's cabinet member for adult social care and housing.

She said: “I welcome the start of this project. There is a strong demand for one bedroom properties in Darlington and the refurbishment of Regent House will enable the council to meet this need.

“Working with Coast & Country enables us to bring back into use an empty building and offer local people modern accommodation in a central location close to shops and workplaces.”