A regional daily is set to move from the site where it has been based since being founded nearly a century and a half ago.
The Northern Echo has been located at a base in Darlington since 1869 but the owners of a neighbouring shopping centre have now agreed to buy it as part of expansion plans.
Terms have been agreed for the Moorfield Group, which owns the Cornmill shopping centre, to buy the paper’s 40,000sq ft building on Priestgate, paving the way an extension.
Echo editor Peter Barron said the paper was committed to remaining in Darlington town centre and was now looking at options for its new home.
He said it could take up to five years for Newsquest title’s relocation to a new base to be complete and it would depend on how the shopping centre plans progressed.
Said Peter: “It is under consideration. We do own a separate site in the town centre so it may be that we build on that side but that isn’t definite. We might also look at leasing office space.
“Our main message is that we are leaving Priestgate but we have no intention of leaving Darlington – we will be staying at the heart of the town.
“The owners of the shopping centre have bought the building and they could ask us to leave any time in the next five years. A lot will depend on progress of the plans to expand the shopping centre.
“There’s a lot of talk about Debenhams coming into the town centre and I think our building would be a prime location for that.”
He said he would be sad to leave the building but it was old and inefficient, with a lot of unused space, including where a printing press was located until 1990.
Peter added: “Everybody in the newspaper industry knows somebody who has worked at Priestgate over the years. A lot of people have gone to work for the nationals.
“I came in 1984 as a very green reporter and have spent most of my working life there really. It is a very historic building and some great people have gone through it.”
The Echo’s present building at Priestgate was created when the site was redeveloped in 1916.