The demolition of an eyesore building that has blighted a County Durham community for more than 20 years is set to begin this month.
The former Easington Colliery Primary School, in Seaside Lane, has stood empty since 1997.
With various owners failing to find a viable use for it, over the past two decades the building’s condition has deteriorated significantly. It has become a target for vandals and its rundown appearance has impacted property prices.
After bringing the building back into public ownership, Durham County Council consulted with residents on plans for its future, with 91 per cent of those who responded agreeing that demolition was the best way of bringing the site back into use.
More than 60 per cent described it as an eyesore and felt it was demoralising, while 88 per cent believed that demolishing the buildings would have a positive impact on them or their business.
In response to the feedback from residents, the council submitted a planning application, which was approved in October 2020, to clear the site and create a pocket park until a permanent use for the land is found.
Preparatory works for the demolition have begun this week, with the temporary removal of the gates and brick pillars along the boundary of Seaside Lane to allow access for machinery. The gates will be reinstated once the demolition is complete.
Internal surveys will then be carried out before the demolition, which is expected to take around 16 weeks, begins towards the end of July. The work will be undertaken on behalf of the council by MGL Demolition, which will take measures to minimise any disruption to residents living near the site.
Cllr James Rowlandson, Cabinet member for resources, investment and assets, said: “Despite the significant efforts of everyone involved to find a viable use for the old Easington Colliery Primary School building, unfortunately, it has just not been possible and, in the meantime, the building has fallen into a significant state of disrepair.
“This is clearly having a detrimental impact, not only on the built environment, but also on the lives of local residents, so it is vital that we take action to address the issue.
“It is great to see that the situation is now moving forward, and residents will soon be able to see a significant improvement into their local community.”
The scheme is being carried out as part of Durham County Council’s Towns and Villages programme, which aims to tackle issues in communities around the county and act as a catalyst for further regeneration and investment.
It has already helped bring about £750 million of investment across the county at sites like Horden Rail Station and Festival Walk Shopping Centre in Spennymoor. Through the strategy the council also seeks to align its budgets and activities to ensure they deliver the best outcomes for communities.