THE eyesore Steetley site plagued by arsonists and trespassers has finally been transformed – six years after the Hartlepool Mail launched its campaign to get the area made safe.
Dangerous structures, buildings and rubble have all been removed from the site, off Old Cemetery Road, ahead of a multi-million housing development.
The former chemical works site - which has also seen the landmark chimney demolished – is now a blanket of crushed stone and construction work on the new homes is expected to start next year.
Starford Holdings has planning permission for a £100m development of 484 luxury seaview homes and they plan to market the site once the final planning “formalities” have been completed.
The 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” with youngsters diving into and swimming in the former settling tanks.
Six years on and Steetley has been transformed after contractors Sirrius North East completed remediation work on the site.
The firm was contracted by the land’s owners, Starford Holdings, to carry out the colossal clear-up operation which lasted 42 weeks and finished a few weeks ago.
It involved demolishing the remains of existing hazardous structures, clearing away debris and levelling off the land to leave the site ready for future development.
As part of the Mail’s campaign, residents were urged to sign petitions, which set out clear goals to make the site more secure, clear the debris, speed up the administration process, publicise the plans for the site, and redevelop the area.
Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “Steetley has been one of those sites that had the potential to turn into a disaster area.
“The Hartlepool Mail highlighted the dangers on a number of occasions and it was a big attraction for the kids to go up there.
“It was almost like a play ground for them and it was an accident waiting to happen.
“There was a lot of complex issues surrounding the site being demolished and cleared which is why it has taken so long.
“But it is really pleasing that the site is now safe.
“Whether the next phase starts now or in the future doesn’t really matter, as least it is now a site that won’t cause any more sleepless nights.”
Rob Schofield, principal engineer at Sirrius North East, said: “We are very pleased with how the work went and it is now a site fit for the proposed development.
“We have re-engineered the soil and put a thin layer of crushed concrete on the surface.”
Nick Blezard, a representative for Starford Holdings, formerly Culford Properties, said: “This is a major step forward and the site has been transformed.
“It looks amazing compared to what it used to and we are very pleased with the job that the contractors have done.
“It has past all the tests as far as we are concerned and the next stage will probably be to market the site.”
He added there was one or two planning issues left but described them as “formalities” and said the aim was to sell the site to a developer so work can start on the infrastructure and the new houses.
Mr Blezard was wary about committing to a timescale but added: “I would be disappointed if we didn’t get a house builder on site doing something sometime next year.
“If it was a normal time scale we would expect something this year but we know how long it has taken to get where we are, so I am not deluding myself.
“We have a good quality site there now for a house builder to build on.”