A VACANT community building will be full of life once more when it reopens as an Irish dance studio and the headquarters of a family-run business.

The former Spennymoor Day Centre, in Dundas Street, has stood empty since 2012 when it was shut by Durham County Council which moved day care provision for the elderly and disabled from outdated buildings into leisure centres.

But now, thanks to enterprising couple Paul and Katrina O’Hehir and the council’s property management team, the building is set to welcome the public through its doors once again as the new base of the O’Hehir School of Irish Dance.

Mrs O'Hehir, who is from Durham and has Irish roots, rose to fame as Michael Flatley’s lead dancer in the Lord of The Dance. She currently teaches 40 children aged three and over, as well as an adult class catering to all ages and abilities.

Mr O'Hehir is partner in a chartered accountancy business with his father, which has operated from Spennymoor for 30 years. The business will also relocate to the building, where renovation work is already underway and could be completed as early as March.

Councillor Kevin Shaw, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “We were delighted when Katrina and Paul presented their plan to us, as we had been keen to find a buyer who would bring the building back into community use.

"Our property management team supported the couple throughout the process, and we would like to wish them the very best of luck with both of their enterprises in the future.”

Mr O'Hehir said: “This is a great opportunity for us to get the office space we really need.

"I grew up 100 yards away and I’ve seen the building deteriorate over the years so it’s great to see it being used again. It’s great to be a part of its transformation and it’s fantastic for the community too.

"We are extremely happy with the guidance and help we’ve received from the council throughout the process.”