A MULTI-million pound clear-up of the eyesore Steetley site is under way – five years after the Hartlepool Mail launched a campaign to get the area made safe.
Work has begun to clear land at the former chemical works site in Hartlepool – an area that has been plagued by arsonists and trespassers.
As part of the scheme, the landmark chimney at the centre of the site – which is visible from miles around and forms part of the town’s skyline – will be flattened.
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”.
Residents were urged to sign petitions as part of our campaign, 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.
Now five years on, Sirrius North East, contracted by the land’s owners, Starford Holdings, have been given the go-ahead to carry out the colossal clear-up operation, expected to last 42 weeks.
Today Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said he was delighted that the work is finally happening.
He said: “It’s really good news that something is happening at long last.
“There has been a huge frustration over a number of years now since the site closed regarding the potential dangers around it.
“Some people got injured there before and it was an accident waiting to happen.
“But I am delighted we are heading in the right direction and getting the site made safe and levelled off.
“It’s obviously a complicated programme because there is a lot of contamination with the land from its previous use.”
A 20-strong team from Durham-based Sirius North East is now demolishing the remains of existing hazardous structures, clearing away debris and levelling off the land.
The aim is for it to be surfaced over with a “crushed stone blanket” ready for any future use.
Phill Collings, remedial director for Sirius North East, which is also demolishing the former Cerebos factory, in Greatham, said: “People have done demolition in the past at Steetley but just reduced the buildings to ground level.
“We will now go in and process through all the concrete and demolish the rubble and clear the last of it.”
He said the site had been divided into four areas, labelled A, B, C and D and that the demolition of the structures close to Hartlepool Golf Club should be complete within the next couple of months.
Mr Collings added that the company had been consulting with archeologists and ecologists, as well as carrying out surveys and engaging Hartlepool Borough Council on the development.
Residents have been assured that asbestos contaminated material on the site does not pose a danger,
He said: “It is a bit of a moonscape, with potholes, but all that will be graded out and there will be a fairly smooth gradient from the cemetery to the golf course.”
Mr Collings said he could not comment on what would happen once the site was fully cleared regarding Starford Holdings’ planned £100m housing development of 484 luxury seaview homes.
Starford Holdings was unavailable for comment.