Council leaders have ‘committed to securing Darlington’s eyesore tower block

Council leaders insist they are “committed” to acquiring ownership of Darlington’s tallest building.

The local authority’s plan to acquire Northgate House, which has been labeled an eyesore locally, has suffered several delays due to contractual issues with the current owners. Darlington Borough Council first outlined plans to demolish the tower block in 2021, as part of a wider regeneration of the Northgate area of ​​the city. A new mixed-use residential and commercial gateway to the city is proposed for the site.

But hopes of quickly securing a compulsory purchase order (CPO) were unsuccessful and officials have admitted that any progress in the short term is unlikely. The council’s Labor leadership faced criticism from Conservative colleagues at a meeting on Thursday, who reiterated calls for the building to be demolished.

Cllr Jonathan Dulston said: “Have you been in the room with the current owners of Northgate House and been as direct with them as I have been about the need to knock the building down?”

In response, Cllr Chris McEwan, cabinet member for the economy, said he is confident of a positive resolution. He said: “You will understand the complexity of this problem, and what I can say is that the CPO is making progress, but a planning application is required, which is also making progress. We are committed to solving this problem.”

However, council leader Stephen Harker accused the Tories of not fully understanding the process. He said: “You didn’t understand how complex it was. It’s a complex issue because there is a process that takes time.” The £2.5 million funding earmarked for Northgate House remains on the table despite the impasse.

Chris Mains, program manager for the Towns Fund, told a meeting in April: ‘A planning application is being prepared for Northgate House and the nearby Gladstone Street redevelopment. In the long run, I’m confident this will happen, but I’m not sure. on time scales.”

And when asked how far off the council is from the owner’s valuation, Mr Mains revealed: “It’s about more than double. We’ve stretched the initial valuation twice, but it’s not superficial.”