WORK has started to transform an empty office block in Darlington town centre into affordable apartments.

Regent House, on Commercial Street, will be converted into 47 one-bedroom flats following a major refurbishment, which will include new walls to divide the units, complete rewiring, plumbing and joinery to create new kitchens and bathrooms.

The flats will also be freshly decorated and carpeted.

Loading article content

The completed project, expected to be ready for occupation in Spring 2015, will provide high quality, affordable homes for local people.

It is part of developer Coast and Country Housing’s Empty Homes project, working in partnership with Darlington Borough Council.

Funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, the Empty Homes scheme aims to address the issue of long-term empty homes whilst providing training, volunteering and work opportunities.

Apprentices and trainees who participate in the project benefit from training and development, helping them to gain skills which lead to meaningful employment.

Iain Sim, chief executive of Coast and Country Housing said: “It is very exciting to see work commence on this major project for Coast and Country.

“The partnership with Darlington Council will bring Regent House back to life and the project also will offer work and training opportunities to help the individuals involved to learn new skills to help improve their employability.”

Councillor Veronica Copeland, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and housing, added: “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 and 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.”