PLANS to turn a deserted high-rise office block into 50 luxury flats have been passed fit for development.

Northgate House, on the edge of Darlington town centre, will be put up for auction for sale to a private developer, who could turn the 1970s built tower into one and two-bedroom flats.

Croft Capital, the asset management company responsible for the building, submitted a change of use application to Darlington Borough Council under new Government legislation designed to boost housing development.

Under the rules the council could only approve or refuse development on traffic and transport issues, on site contamination risks and flooding risks.

The application was approved on January 31 and Northgate House will now be auctioned on March 24 as a residential development opportunity.

If the plans go-ahead, flats would be built on floors two to nine of the building, with parking for 25 cars on level one.

Rupert Maxwell-Brown, from Croft Capital, said: “"We are delighted that the Permitted Development Rights application has been confirmed by the council.

“We believe that the Northgate House scheme would be very well suited as a private rental scheme for an investor developer. We have therefore instructed Allsop to sell the property at their auction on March 24."