PLANS to transform The Northern Echo’s historic headquarters into an apartment block containing 52 residences has moved to the next stage after prior approval was granted.

Nestled in the heart of Darlington’s town centre, the current building on Priestgate opened in 1917 and has been home to generations of newspaper workers ever since.

The iconic property once housed a significant workforce, with hundreds of employees at the bustling site when printing was carried out in-house.

Changes to the journalism industry, coupled with a rise in digital operations, have led to parts of the building becoming unoccupied and the office block now housing a fraction of the numbers who once worked on Priestgate.

A report included in the application suggested that the four-storey building could eventually become a residential development housing 52 one and two bedroomed apartments on the second, third and fourth floors.

A memorial to the Northern Echo workers who lost their lives during WWI will remain undisturbed by the redevelopment proposals contained within the application.

David Coates, regional managing director for LOCALiQ and Newsquest Yorkshire and North-East, said: "I am really excited about the plans for the building which could help regenerate this part of the town."