CONTRACTORS have erected scaffolding around the outside of The Northern Echo offices as part of ongoing maintenance work on the 97-year-old building.

The newspaper's offices, in Priestgate, Darlington, had been earmarked for a Debenhams development, but those hopes faded late last year.

Work to repair and replace decades-old windows in the building is due to be carried out, with scaffolding put up to facilitate that.

It is part of a partial renovation of the building being carried out by The Northern Echo's parent company, Newsquest.

The Debenhams development had been due to form part of the Cornmill shopping centre, which is adjacent to the Echo offices.

In October last year, Cornmill owners Moorfield Group said it was considering other potential users for the Echo offices, including 'large space users'.

In a statement, Moorfield's asset manager Mark Holmes said: "Following Debenhams’ decision to not commit to Darlington at the end of last year, Moorfield has been proactively marketing the unit and we remain committed to doing so.

“We are confident that we will secure a suitable user that complements the centre’s offering, however at this time there are no discussions underway.”

The Northern Echo's editor, Peter Barron, has repeatedly said that the newspaper will retain a strong presence in the centre of Darlington regardless of what the long-term future holds for the Priestgate building.