A PLAN to create the UK's biggest eco village on the site of a disused wool factory have been unveiled.

The former Paton and Baldwins factory, on the outskirts of Darlington, will be transformed into a flagship ecological community.

The vision would result in the 110-acre Lingfield Point business park, as the site is known, being transformed with more low energy offices, eco homes and leisure facilities powered by renewable energy.

The Paton and Baldwins wool factory, off McMullen Road, opened in 1947 and was home to 3,500 workers at its height.

Rothmans took over a third of the site in 1977, before it fell into decline and then into the hands of receivers. In 1998, it was bought by developer Marchday.

Since then, Marchday has spent £25m and transformed some of the old factory buildings into offices. Today, 1,500 people work at Lingfield Point.

Marchday wants to restore the site into one of the most prominent in the North-East.

Director John Orchard said 2,500 people will work there within the next two years and that he hoped some of them will be able to live in the new environmentally friendly homes.

There would also be sustainable transport links, such as bus services, all designed to protect the environment.

Central to the vision is the new Darlington Eastern Transport Corridor, now under construction, which will link the A66 to central Darlington.

This long-awaited road should open in the spring of next year and will transform Lingfield Point from Darlington's back door to its front door.

Marchday will soon begin extensive consultation with local people.

Mr Orchard said: "Our vision will only become reality if local residents like the ideas, and we hope the process will throw up some ideas we have not thought of.

"Marchday believes the views of local people are extremely important.

"The masterplan will present us with wonderful opportunities to provide new facilities for the Darlington community, and its input in the planning process will be invaluable.

"We hope to create links with Red Hall and Lingfield in order that the new facilities are made available to all."

When the Paton and Baldwins factory opened after the Second World War, it included rail links, its own power station and reservoir, restaurant and theatre, as well as housing, which was home to many of the factory workforce.

Mr Orchard said: "Our ideas will be similar in scale."

Marchday is planning to regenerate more former factory buildings that have fallen into disrepair.

Among them are the Powerhouse, the original boiler house and turbine hall, and the Soap Dock, which was used for dust collection.

Both are overlooking the A66 and Red Hall estate.

However, by the time the Eastern Transport Corridor is completed, they will be landmarks at the entrance to Darlington.

By mixing uses on site, Marchday hopes to be able to justify a combined heat and power plant and green technologies such as wind and solar power, along with rainwater harvesting.