Work to start on £8m office block in Darlington

Darlington and Stockton Times: BRIGHT FUTURE: An artist's impression of the Department for Education offices in Darlington BRIGHT FUTURE: An artist's impression of the Department for Education offices in Darlington

BUILDING work will start this week on an £8m office development that will secure the future of hundreds of jobs in a North-East town.

Wednesday (December 11) marks the official beginning of work on the Department for Education (DfE) offices in Darlington town centre.

The date marks the end of preparation works including extensive archaeological excavation on the site to the rear of the Town Hall in Darlington.

Work to lay the pilings for the foundations of the building will now commence.

There has already been keen interest in the site from residents and school children, with about 250 people taking advantage of the recent dig tours.

These detailed what had been uncovered as part of the excavation works and gave information on the history of the site once thought to have been a poor house.

Analysis of the finds is now ongoing, with decision to be made as to how these will be recorded, displayed and archived.

It is estimated that the build will take about 59 weeks with the framework in place by February next year.

The £8m development will accommodate around 375 DfE workers as they move out of their existing offices at run-down Mowden Hall.

The offices will form a public sector hub which will enable the sharing of facilities by both the DfE and Darlington Borough Council.

In a detailed agreement, the council will lease the building to the DfE for 15 years.

Council leader Bill Dixon said: “The archaeological work caused a lot of excitement in the town as everyone wondered what was beneath the car park.

“It is now time for a big step into the present day as work starts in earnest on what will be an innovative and most welcome development in the town centre.”

Comments (15)

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6:46pm Mon 9 Dec 13

MSG says...

The remaining town hall staff post cuts and the Mowden DofE staff should have been moved into a refurbished Northgate House skyscraper . The old town hall and its scrap metal feature could then have been demolished ready for a ten pin bowling alley, casino etc expansion to the new cinema complex !
The remaining town hall staff post cuts and the Mowden DofE staff should have been moved into a refurbished Northgate House skyscraper . The old town hall and its scrap metal feature could then have been demolished ready for a ten pin bowling alley, casino etc expansion to the new cinema complex ! MSG

7:40pm Mon 9 Dec 13

miketually says...

I love how people keep suggesting old, run-down buildings as a suitable replacement for the old, run-down building the DfE were moving out of.
I love how people keep suggesting old, run-down buildings as a suitable replacement for the old, run-down building the DfE were moving out of. miketually

7:40pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Bambooflyrod says...

MSG, if you were to use Northgate House, where would all the worker's cars go? Only parking for a handful of cars up there.
MSG, if you were to use Northgate House, where would all the worker's cars go? Only parking for a handful of cars up there. Bambooflyrod

8:00pm Mon 9 Dec 13

thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth says...

Amazing how the council can just magically find all this money for one of their little pet projects.....

And in other news today it's more cutbacks and closures.
Amazing how the council can just magically find all this money for one of their little pet projects..... And in other news today it's more cutbacks and closures. thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth

8:14pm Mon 9 Dec 13

JJ2000 says...

Does this mean I have to empty my bins myself now?
Does this mean I have to empty my bins myself now? JJ2000

10:56pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Spy Boy says...

miketually wrote:
I love how people keep suggesting old, run-down buildings as a suitable replacement for the old, run-down building the DfE were moving out of.
Lingfield Point is not Run Down, Mike. Check them out. Open office space and free parking too. Pretty good solution I'd say. However, this precludes spending money on behalf of the council. I seem to remember that you use a bike ? What about all the DofE people with cars ? Where do they park ? Any ideas ? Maybe Bill Dixon knows . . and maybe he doesn't and maybe he doesn't even care.

As for all of us wondering what was under the car park; I thought that it was all in the old drawings of the town. The ones no one looks at and misses seeing Victorian Gas Mains.
[quote][p][bold]miketually[/bold] wrote: I love how people keep suggesting old, run-down buildings as a suitable replacement for the old, run-down building the DfE were moving out of.[/p][/quote]Lingfield Point is not Run Down, Mike. Check them out. Open office space and free parking too. Pretty good solution I'd say. However, this precludes spending money on behalf of the council. I seem to remember that you use a bike ? What about all the DofE people with cars ? Where do they park ? Any ideas ? Maybe Bill Dixon knows . . and maybe he doesn't and maybe he doesn't even care. As for all of us wondering what was under the car park; I thought that it was all in the old drawings of the town. The ones no one looks at and misses seeing Victorian Gas Mains. Spy Boy

11:01pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Spy Boy says...

Bambooflyrod wrote:
MSG, if you were to use Northgate House, where would all the worker's cars go? Only parking for a handful of cars up there.
The council would need to earmark the car parks nearby for their use. I bet that they'd charge them though. Apparently a car park off Duke Street has been switched from Public use ? What's the deal here ? A large chunk of the Park Place Car Park has also been fenced off.
[quote][p][bold]Bambooflyrod[/bold] wrote: MSG, if you were to use Northgate House, where would all the worker's cars go? Only parking for a handful of cars up there.[/p][/quote]The council would need to earmark the car parks nearby for their use. I bet that they'd charge them though. Apparently a car park off Duke Street has been switched from Public use ? What's the deal here ? A large chunk of the Park Place Car Park has also been fenced off. Spy Boy

11:40pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Stocko says...

Why do the same people seem to want to do this project down when its a massive boost for the town centre.

In the current circumstances Darlington is lucky to get two projects like this and the leisure complex going.

Some people don't seem to know when they're winning.
Why do the same people seem to want to do this project down when its a massive boost for the town centre. In the current circumstances Darlington is lucky to get two projects like this and the leisure complex going. Some people don't seem to know when they're winning. Stocko

12:15am Tue 10 Dec 13

PJ Chingford says...

Lot of comments on parking here, at my last job for one of the local Councils I was 'required' to have access to a car for council business and got charged £22 a month for my parking pass!, still a good deal I know but contractually required to have a car and then charged to park it, I cycled in 4 days a week!
Lot of comments on parking here, at my last job for one of the local Councils I was 'required' to have access to a car for council business and got charged £22 a month for my parking pass!, still a good deal I know but contractually required to have a car and then charged to park it, I cycled in 4 days a week! PJ Chingford

1:05am Tue 10 Dec 13

SirLance says...

It shouldn't be in the town center!it should be on the outskirts of town near an arterial 'feeder 'roadway which would do away with the necessity for e any town center parking . There is already congestion in the town enter why add to i??People travelling into town to work and then leave to go home again! think about the nonsense of the very statement! Build the offices near the housing areas where most of theses folk live! the town center should be for decent leisure time, theaters,libraries, good restaurants etc. Which 'Richard Cranium' proposed this advanced cluster effect nightmare?
It shouldn't be in the town center!it should be on the outskirts of town near an arterial 'feeder 'roadway which would do away with the necessity for e any town center parking . There is already congestion in the town enter why add to i??People travelling into town to work and then leave to go home again! think about the nonsense of the very statement! Build the offices near the housing areas where most of theses folk live! the town center should be for decent leisure time, theaters,libraries, good restaurants etc. Which 'Richard Cranium' proposed this advanced cluster effect nightmare? SirLance

5:11am Tue 10 Dec 13

Luther95 says...

Across the country, town centres as the retail hub of communities are shrinking - the greater mobility of shoppers, rampant out-of-town developments and now the growth of online are key factors.

Town centres like Darlington have to reinvent themselves - retaining key retail for sure, but bolstering their vitality with a mix of housing, offices and leisure.

Stocko is spot on - the cinema complex and relocating Mowden are fantastic wins for Darlington. Had the Council not offered the town centre car park site, then the DfE jobs would have disappeared north to Durham or Newcastle. The leisure complex will reinvigorate a pretty dead part of the town centre.
Across the country, town centres as the retail hub of communities are shrinking - the greater mobility of shoppers, rampant out-of-town developments and now the growth of online are key factors. Town centres like Darlington have to reinvent themselves - retaining key retail for sure, but bolstering their vitality with a mix of housing, offices and leisure. Stocko is spot on - the cinema complex and relocating Mowden are fantastic wins for Darlington. Had the Council not offered the town centre car park site, then the DfE jobs would have disappeared north to Durham or Newcastle. The leisure complex will reinvigorate a pretty dead part of the town centre. Luther95

7:39am Tue 10 Dec 13

Darloresident says...

Luther95 wrote:
Across the country, town centres as the retail hub of communities are shrinking - the greater mobility of shoppers, rampant out-of-town developments and now the growth of online are key factors.

Town centres like Darlington have to reinvent themselves - retaining key retail for sure, but bolstering their vitality with a mix of housing, offices and leisure.

Stocko is spot on - the cinema complex and relocating Mowden are fantastic wins for Darlington. Had the Council not offered the town centre car park site, then the DfE jobs would have disappeared north to Durham or Newcastle. The leisure complex will reinvigorate a pretty dead part of the town centre.
You dont know that the jobs would have gone to Durham or Newcastle Luther..We have not been told which sites in Darlington were looked at and dismissed.
We have never had an explanation as to why Lingfield Point was no suitable for DofE - without costing any public money.The Council has ended up in effect being a commercial Landlord which I believe is risky and wrong.
The Council always wanted the option they have.This is to ensure the continuing survival of the next door Town Hall and its ever crumbling building (New lifts,refurbishment of existing facilities already been approved).
When next year they want to spend even more public money feathering their own nests by building extensions and further improvements to the Town Hall site they will use the excuse of the benefits being enjoyed by all at as they will see it this Civil Service hub.
It wouldnt surprise me if plans are already afoot to bring back the Council jobs from Lingfield and relocate them to Feethams.
I do wish someone could come up with a better excuse that Lingfield Point was not suitable for DofE because its more than 5 mins walk from the Railway station..
[quote][p][bold]Luther95[/bold] wrote: Across the country, town centres as the retail hub of communities are shrinking - the greater mobility of shoppers, rampant out-of-town developments and now the growth of online are key factors. Town centres like Darlington have to reinvent themselves - retaining key retail for sure, but bolstering their vitality with a mix of housing, offices and leisure. Stocko is spot on - the cinema complex and relocating Mowden are fantastic wins for Darlington. Had the Council not offered the town centre car park site, then the DfE jobs would have disappeared north to Durham or Newcastle. The leisure complex will reinvigorate a pretty dead part of the town centre.[/p][/quote]You dont know that the jobs would have gone to Durham or Newcastle Luther..We have not been told which sites in Darlington were looked at and dismissed. We have never had an explanation as to why Lingfield Point was no suitable for DofE - without costing any public money.The Council has ended up in effect being a commercial Landlord which I believe is risky and wrong. The Council always wanted the option they have.This is to ensure the continuing survival of the next door Town Hall and its ever crumbling building (New lifts,refurbishment of existing facilities already been approved). When next year they want to spend even more public money feathering their own nests by building extensions and further improvements to the Town Hall site they will use the excuse of the benefits being enjoyed by all at as they will see it this Civil Service hub. It wouldnt surprise me if plans are already afoot to bring back the Council jobs from Lingfield and relocate them to Feethams. I do wish someone could come up with a better excuse that Lingfield Point was not suitable for DofE because its more than 5 mins walk from the Railway station.. Darloresident

9:08am Tue 10 Dec 13

Homshaw1 says...

If it is right to have Dfe in the Town centre why not Cummins, Whessoe, Orange and a whole host of other large organisations. There is a suitable place for any type of enterprise. Large organisations that do not need to deal regularly with the public simply add to congestion and incur extra rent and rates.

The situation we have arrived at is because the council's Business Engagement team did not find out there was a problem with the Mowden accommodation until Dfe threatened to leave and then had to make concessions it probably wouldn't otherwise have done to keep the jobs.

Is it now going to be held ransom by every large organisation or is it going to engage with major employers and address problems at an earlier stage because they have ended up putting large amounts of ratepayer's money at risk unnecessarily.
If it is right to have Dfe in the Town centre why not Cummins, Whessoe, Orange and a whole host of other large organisations. There is a suitable place for any type of enterprise. Large organisations that do not need to deal regularly with the public simply add to congestion and incur extra rent and rates. The situation we have arrived at is because the council's Business Engagement team did not find out there was a problem with the Mowden accommodation until Dfe threatened to leave and then had to make concessions it probably wouldn't otherwise have done to keep the jobs. Is it now going to be held ransom by every large organisation or is it going to engage with major employers and address problems at an earlier stage because they have ended up putting large amounts of ratepayer's money at risk unnecessarily. Homshaw1

9:23am Tue 10 Dec 13

miketually says...

Spy Boy wrote:
miketually wrote:
I love how people keep suggesting old, run-down buildings as a suitable replacement for the old, run-down building the DfE were moving out of.
Lingfield Point is not Run Down, Mike. Check them out. Open office space and free parking too. Pretty good solution I'd say. However, this precludes spending money on behalf of the council. I seem to remember that you use a bike ? What about all the DofE people with cars ? Where do they park ? Any ideas ? Maybe Bill Dixon knows . . and maybe he doesn't and maybe he doesn't even care.

As for all of us wondering what was under the car park; I thought that it was all in the old drawings of the town. The ones no one looks at and misses seeing Victorian Gas Mains.
I was replying to the suggestion that Northgate House was used, and also the suggestion made on here previously that the Eastbourne school building would be suitable.

As far as I'm aware, Lingfield Point didn't meet the criteria that it was easily accessible by public transport. Presumably, the DofE made this decision, rather than Darlington Council?

I'm not sure what my choice of transport has to do with how people working for the DofE get to work, but I'd suggest that they either park their cars in the car parks, or get to work via public transport, walking or cycling.
[quote][p][bold]Spy Boy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]miketually[/bold] wrote: I love how people keep suggesting old, run-down buildings as a suitable replacement for the old, run-down building the DfE were moving out of.[/p][/quote]Lingfield Point is not Run Down, Mike. Check them out. Open office space and free parking too. Pretty good solution I'd say. However, this precludes spending money on behalf of the council. I seem to remember that you use a bike ? What about all the DofE people with cars ? Where do they park ? Any ideas ? Maybe Bill Dixon knows . . and maybe he doesn't and maybe he doesn't even care. As for all of us wondering what was under the car park; I thought that it was all in the old drawings of the town. The ones no one looks at and misses seeing Victorian Gas Mains.[/p][/quote]I was replying to the suggestion that Northgate House was used, and also the suggestion made on here previously that the Eastbourne school building would be suitable. As far as I'm aware, Lingfield Point didn't meet the criteria that it was easily accessible by public transport. Presumably, the DofE made this decision, rather than Darlington Council? I'm not sure what my choice of transport has to do with how people working for the DofE get to work, but I'd suggest that they either park their cars in the car parks, or get to work via public transport, walking or cycling. miketually

2:24pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Homshaw1 says...

Whether Lingfield Point was suitable is academic as the decision has been made. It's good to have the cinema in the Town Centre and inappropriate to have Dfe.

The council's Business Engagement Team needs to up its game as it has left the council to fire fight a situation it should have been in control of and forced it to risk large amounts of our money
Whether Lingfield Point was suitable is academic as the decision has been made. It's good to have the cinema in the Town Centre and inappropriate to have Dfe. The council's Business Engagement Team needs to up its game as it has left the council to fire fight a situation it should have been in control of and forced it to risk large amounts of our money Homshaw1

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