THE owners of a derelict former chemical site say work on houses could begin as early as next year.
A multi-million-pound clean-up is under way at the eyesore Steetley site in Hartlepool, as reported by the Hartlepool Mail last week.
Today owner Starford Holdings said once contractors Sirius North East finish a scheduled 42-week clean up programme in January next year – and as soon as a house builder is found – work on building the new homes could start in February or March.
Starford’s spokesman Nick Blezard said: “We are very pleased to be able to start work at Steetley.
“It is not through any lack of effort on our part but since the time of getting planning permission exactly two years ago this has taken an awful lot longer than we thought.
“We have taken a great deal of trouble to make sure we are doing it absolutely 100 per cent in accordance with the Environment Agency and local council.”
Once the clearance is complete, Starford hopes to find a house-building firm to sell the land to and who will carry out the construction of 484 homes for which planning permission is already in place.
Mr Blezard said that although the site is not badly contaminated a lot of remedial work is needed regarding remaining structures.
Contractors will be lowering the level of the higher part of the site, north of the cemetery, and using material to raise the level of the lower site, near the golf course, to even out the area.
The site will also be excavated, with holes filled up, and the whole area covered in a “crushed concrete blanket”.
Mr Blezard added: “In accordance with the council, Environment Agency and the National House-Building Council we will be leaving the site as fit for housing work to construct as possible.
“Sirius will be on-site until January and if we can get an agreement with a housebuilder and they can start work February or March on some part of the site, it could well be that towards the end of 2013 there may well be a couple of houses on the site.
“It could take four to five years from the time the housebuilder starts to the time of completion.”
He added that once remedial work is finished, house builders should not have any further structural work to complete.
Mr Blezard said the landmark Steetley chimney, a well-known part of the town’s skyline, would be demolished possibly around May, with rail authorities having to be notified due to its location near the rail track.
This may be done on a Sunday when train services are limited.
The Hartlepool Mail launched the Sort Out Steetley campaign in 2007 in a bid to have the desolate site made secure after children began using it as an “adventure playground”.