Darlington's historic newspaper office to become new adult learning centre and commercial space

From left: David Gartland, principal and CEO, Darlington College; Town Board Chair Angela Howey; Cllr Stephen Harker, Leader of Darlington Borough Council; Mark Black, CEO Adavo Workspace; Ian Williams, Chief Executive, Darlington Borough Council
-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)

The redevelopment of the former Northern Echo building in Darlington town centre has made progress, with North East-based workspace provider Adavo appointed to transform the old newspaper offices into an adult skills facility and apartments.

The Priestgate building was purchased by Darlington Borough Council in 2022 as part of a council-led town centre regeneration scheme, funded by the Government's Towns Fund and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

The council believes the new facility will enhance the town's existing adult learning provision and meet the growing demand for high-quality commercial letting space in the town centre. Adavo is set to design, deliver and operate the project.

Preparatory works on the historic site, which also once housed the offices of the Darlington & Stockton Times, have already commenced, with renovation work slated to begin in August.

Angela Howey, Town Board chair, said: "A revised proposal to extend the scope of the Northern Echo adult skills project to include more high-quality commercial office space on the upper floors was recently accepted by the Towns Fund.

"We are delighted that Adavo has now come on board and that we are able to take the next steps in regenerating this important building. The project presents fantastic opportunities for local people wanting to learn new skills, find employment or progress in their careers as well as for businesses looking to start, grow or relocate in Darlington."

Chris McEwan, cabinet member for economy, shared his excitement for the renovation. He added: "Having commercial space alongside the new adult skills facility also poses significant possibilities for learners seeking employment and for collaboration between business and education providers; helping to ensure learners have the right skills and are employable."

Mark Black, chief executive officer of Adavo Workspace said: "The Northern Echo building is a fabulous setting, with an interesting history and great local connections, and we are excited to have the opportunity to redevelop the space to accommodate the changing needs and demands of modern businesses; helping to bring more, better quality jobs to the area.

"Having an adult skills facility on site is a great coup and presents exciting opportunities for businesses to interact with education providers; supporting the ongoing training and development of local talent."