Work to build 99 new homes on the site of Layton’s three last tower blocks will begin in a ‘matter of weeks’, The Gazette can reveal.
While the streets surrounding the 1960s flats were being cleaned as quickly as possible, contractors were preparing to reuse the rubble for the foundations of the new homes, which will include a mix of apartments, and two, three, and four bedroom homes.
Work on the £22m scheme is expected to be completed by Spring 2018, with the homes set to be rented out at an affordable sum – 80 per cent of the going market rate – by Blackpool Coastal Housing.
A spokesman for Lovell, the main contractor working on the development, said: “The demolition went to plan and as expected aside from a short delay when contact could not be made with a handful of residents to establish they had left their homes.
“All went ahead as soon as this was confirmed.
“Following a rigorous inspection of the site by specialist engineers, residents were able to return to their homes from around 11.15am.
“The clean-up teams moved straight into action focusing on streets and public areas with further cleaning taking place yesterday of windows and gardens of homes nearest the demolition site.”
The firm’s comments came as Sunday’s razing was yesterday hailed a success.
Glaziers put on standby in case tumbling rubble smashed nearby windows were stood down without being called into action, the council said.
And the hundreds of evacuated residents were back in their homes earlier than expected after four street cleaners cleared debris and thick dust from nearby streets.
One concern for town hall officials however was traffic close to the weekend’s exclusion zone.
Pictures taken at the scene show cars abandoned in the middle of junctions – blocking access to emergency vehicles as thousands of people went out to watch the town’s skyline change forever.
The move prompted an alert on social media sites urging motorists to be more considerate as the roads ground to a halt. But no action will be taken against drivers who left their vehicles in the middle of the road, or those who double-parked, it is understood, because the event was a one-off.
Concerns were also raised about the enormous dust cloud that covered crowds stood down wind, but it consisted mainly of brick dust and contained nothing harmful, The Gazette understands.
The Lovell spokesman added: “All potentially hazardous material was carefully removed from the towers several months ago by independent specialist contractors before any work was started to dismantle them, and nothing unusual has since been found in the rubble.”
Affected homes yesterday had their windows cleaned, while contractors began sorting the rubble in order to start work on the new homes.
The first phase, which has already been completed, was the dismantling of the Ashworth Court and Charles Court tower blocks – rather than a demolition – and the construction of 92 new homes.
Bruce Lister, regeneration manager at Lovell, said: “It was well planned but there’s a great sense of relief that everything appears to have gone well.
“There’s a lot of people who put a lot of time and worry into the project – it’s not something you do every day of your life.
“There was a lot of organisation, not least because there are a lot of households that have been affected by this.”
He continued: “It couldn’t have been done if people hadn’t been prepared to move out for a few houses while the work was done – so my thanks to them.”
Council leader Simon Blackburn, who has represented Queens Park since 2007, said demolishing the flats was the ‘right thing to do’ because of their poor quality, and complaints of damp and noise.
“It has gone well and we can get cracking now with building lots more family homes.”
“Construction work on the second phase of the regeneration will start in around four weeks,” the Lovells spokesman added:
“In line with Lovell’s commitment to waste reduction, virtually all rubble created by the demolition will be recycled as a base course for new roads to be built through the regeneration programme, and will also be used to raise the level of ground on the western part of the project area.”
n Viewers from around the UK, Europe, Australia and a man in a yacht in Barbados all witnessed the demolition of Layton flats, via The Gazette’s Facebook site.
The final minutes of the three remaining towers were broadcast live, from the build-up to the clean-up, and reached over 2.5 million people around the world.