Demolition work has finally begun on a seafront 'eyesore' which council chiefs said was a blight on regeneration efforts.
Demolition teams could be seen tearing down parts of the Longscar Centre in Seaton Carew today months after Hartlepool Borough Council served a legal notice ordering owners to fix it or flatten it.
The building, at The Front, was gutted in a major fire in May 2018, which was later investigated as suspected arson.
The former Coaster pub site site has been empty since 2009 and the council has attempted to use a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to take it into the authority's ownership.
But the move was rejected by a planning inspection in 2016 despite the site previously being branded as an ‘eyesore’ by residents.
Rob Smith, principal regeneration officer at the council, said at the time: “Following the failure of the CPO we are still regarding it as a priority as it is detracting from all our investment into the area.
“We’ve served a legal notice on the owners recently that gives them the opportunity to either refurbish or demolish the building and there’s a set time scale for that."
He said discussions with the owners were ongoing and estimated it would be a number of months until they were concluded. he could not say how long the discussions would go on for but estimated it would be ‘months’.
The sections of the building worst affected by the blaze in May 2018 had already been demolished at the time after initial surveys indicated it was unsafe.
The Seaton Carew regeneration scheme has so far seen a leisure park featuring water jets and play equipment for children which opened last summer.
The update came at the Hartlepool Borough Council North and Coastal Community Forum.
The owners of the building were unable to be reached for comment at the time of publication.