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Monday, April 22, 2024

Derelict Newcastle Tower block to be blown up

Derelict Hexham House tower block in Newcastle to be blown up in controlled explosion

A derelict Newcastle tower block will be blown up in a controlled explosion.

The Hexham House high-rise, in Walker, is finally set to be brought down in a dramatic blast expected to take place in late May.

The explosive demolition will be the first of its kind in Newcastle since 2008, when Sir Bobby Robson pushed the button as the old Scottish and Newcastle Brewery was reduced to rubble.

Plans to tear down the empty Hexham House and its former neighbour, Titan House, have been in the works since their last tenants were being moved out in 2018 – at which point some of the few remaining residents were complaining of them being used as drug dens.

Newcastle City Council bosses have long planned to remove the 16-storey housing blocks and redevelop the Church Street land for a new housing estate.

But the proposals suffered multiple delays, including in 2022 when officials warned that work to remove asbestos from the empty sites has been made more challenging after a gang of thieves broke in to steal copper piping.

Titan House was gradually demolished last year, with “nibbling machines” pulling the housing block apart bit by bit.

But the local authority says that process produced “concerns” and that demolition specialists have now deemed a controlled explosion the “safest option” to bring down the remaining tower.

Council officials say they will soon begin speaking with East End residents about the explosion plans and the required safety arrangements that will be in place around the area, as well as launching a competition for local children to design a health and safety poster.

There are also plans for footage of the explosion, which will be carried out by Thompsons of Prudhoe, to be livestreamed so that people can watch it on social media.

The clearance works, which will also include a block of low-rise flats over the nearby Church Walk shops being demolished too, will pave the way for up to 50 new homes being built.

Cllr Irim Ali Image: Newcastle city council

Cllr Irim Ali, the local authority’s cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “The delays in the demolition of Hexham House are well known and have been a source of frustration for everyone involved. Concerns about how parts of Titan House was broken up during the demolition process forced us back to the drawing board and led to some delays.

“I am pleased we have now agreed a way forward to demolish Hexham House in a way that is safer and quicker and minimises disruption to people who live and pass through the area. We are committed to providing high quality green social housing and it is exciting to see the regeneration of this area finally getting under way.

“Residents and businesses in the area will receive letters from the contractor informing them of the programme of works before demolition begins.”

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