A MAJOR £9m regeneration scheme which aims to breathe new life into a town centre area is finally underway.
Hartlepool Borough Council is working in partnership with Keepmoat Homes, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Housing Hartlepool to re-develop several streets of older terraced homes off Raby Road.
The plans were first announced back in 2006 but there has been delays, including a public inquiry, which left residents frustrated as they were living in squalid conditions and facing problems with crime and anti-social behaviour.
But demolition work has now started and civic chiefs have thanked people for their patience.
A total of 199 houses in Perth Street, Hurworth Street, Grainger Street, Gray Street, Turnbull Street and Raby Road are to be knocked down and replaced with 83 new high-quality family homes, including 15 affordable homes that will be managed by Endeavour Housing.
The old Rovers Quoit Club, which has already re-located to the extensively refurbished former Iona Social Club in Easington Road, will also be demolished.
Demolition work, due to last five months, is being carried out by Keepmoat Homes and funded by the council.
Building work on the new properties, a mix of two, three and four-bedroom houses and bungalows, is scheduled to start in March.
Mayor Stuart Drummond, who thanked people for their patience, said: “A lot of hard work has gone into acquiring the properties for demolition through a combination of agreement and compulsory purchase, and I am delighted that we are finally in a position to start work on site.
“In recent years, this area has been characterised by a number of run-down and hard-to-let privately-owned properties, many of which have ended up standing empty.
“This has led to a consequent downturn in the neighbourhood.
“I am confident, however, that this re-development scheme will revive the area and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners for their on-going support.”
Anne Mulroy, head of area with the HCA, said: “I am really pleased that final site preparations are going ahead and that the last element of this scheme is now coming to fruition.
“It is great news that our Get Britain Building investment will help to re-build the site and provide homes that local people can afford where they want to live.”
Ian Prescott, Keepmoat’s land and partnership’s director, said: “We are delighted to be partnering Hartlepool Council and the Homes and Communities Agency on this significant development.
“The fact that we are replacing 199 existing properties with only 83 new homes illustrates the quality of new housing that we intend to build.
“The dwellings are much larger, have attractive garden space and have been carefully planned around family living.”
The scheme is part of the North Central Hartlepool Masterplan, which also includes the nearby Headway site which was a run-down area of terraced housing before being transformed into a modern, new housing estate.
Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director for regeneration and planning, added: “I am delighted that demolition work has started, and I look forward to this particular re-development scheme building on the success of Headway and bringing even more benefits to the area.”