Eyesore building to go

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A COUNCIL has started preparatory work ahead of the demolition of a controversial derelict building.

Stockton Borough Council moved on site to begin preparations for the demolition of the eyesore Billingham House.

A judicial review at the High Court last month ruled the council is legally entitled to proceed with its plans to demolish the derelict building.

The former headquarters of ICI has fallen into disrepair after being left empty for more than six years.

Council chiefs say they have received overwhelming support from local residents, elected members and the business community and gained planning approval for the demolition.

Initially, work will focus on pumping out the flooded basement of the building and installing site offices and other equipment.

Preparation work is expected to take several weeks before the task of dismantling the structure can begin, most likely during October.

The council says the move will hopefully bring an end to the lengthy legal process which has seen the council pursue the building’s owners, Bizzy B, through the courts and saw the local authority take control of the site last year.

Despite a last-minute development agreement being signed in November 2010 by Bizzy B and developers Python Properties, the council has confirmed that local people’s views are paramount and that action to bring down Billingham House can be delayed no longer.

Councillor Mike Smith, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and transport and a Billingham ward councillor, said: “We have given Bizzy B, the owners of Billingham House, every opportunity to achieve a positive outcome for this site.

“For their part, they have put every possible legal obstacle in our way, done little or nothing to maintain the building in a safe condition, allowed it to fall into dereliction and taken scant account of the views of the local community.

“The council has fought long and hard on behalf of the people of Billingham to achieve what the majority want.

“Now, we are ready to make real progress and bring this lengthy saga to an end.”

Substantial pre-demolition works on Billingham House have already taken place and a demolition contractor is ready to start work.