The redevelopment of the former Northern Echo building is set to cost £11million and could open in 2025. 

Darlington Borough Council has outlined further details as part of a plan to refurbish the historic building on Priestgate in Darlington town centre. 

A new adult skills hub, in partnership with Darlington College, will be built on the ground floor with the remaining upper floors refurbished into office space for businesses. 

The local authority bought the building in 2022 for £925,000 through Towns Fund and Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) Indigenous Growth Fund investment. A further £4million is due to be invested through TVCA’s Investment Fund. 

The overall budget for the project is predicted to be £11,359,360.74, the council added. 

Council papers reveal an ‘experienced and imaginative’ development partner has now been identified to design, redevelop and repurpose the site. Once complete, they will also operate, manage and maintain the entire building. 

The developer has not been revealed but the work is expected to take 18 months to complete. 

Office space in the town centre has been highly sought after following the government’s announcement of the new Darlington Economic Campus in 2021. However, the council recently admitted it is not able to service the current demand. 

A council-commissioned report of office availability reported that the relocation of the Treasury and additional departments is a ‘one in a generation opportunity for Darlington’ and warned that it would be a missed opportunity if it did not capitalise quickly. 

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The report added: “Darlington town centre must be competitive if it is to be vibrant, diverse, and successful and to achieve this, market conditions ultimately means that the council takes the lead in facilitating and enabling the conditions for economic growth through on occasions direct intervention in economic regeneration, and in encouraging partnership with business and developers.”

The nearby vacant site of the former Sports Direct warehouse on East Street has also been identified for future office space. 

Cabinet members are due to approve plans for the council to utilise the further £4 million of TVCA funding for the project at a meeting next Tuesday (January 9).