STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has welcomed the start of work to clear a derelict eyesore from the heart of Stalybridge town centre.
Casablanca’s Health Club, on Armentieres Square, has been empty and derelict since it was gutted by fire in 2005.
Today (Monday 25 February) the bulldozers moved in to start the demolition work on the site, which is now owned by New Charter.
Among those turning out to see the work was MP Jonathan Reynolds and deputy leader of Tameside Council Cllr John Taylor.
“Residents, traders, community leaders and myself have all been pushing for this unsightly and derelict building to go for some time, so I am delighted that demolition has now started,” said Mr Reynolds.
“New owners New Charter have already proved themselves to be good neighbours, by acting so quickly and decisively to get rid of this eyesore – and now there is a real opportunity to breathe new life into this canal-side area of the town.
“Members of the town team, including myself, are at the heart of an ongoing drive to ensure Stalybridge is an attractive place to live, to shop and to visit – and I hope the progress that has been made on this site can now be replicated elsewhere in the town.”
Meanwhile Cllr John Taylor, deputy leader of Tameside Council, said: "These are great times for Stalybridge. We are finally going to see the end of a building that has spoiled the town centre of for almost eight years.
“Empty buildings are not only a blight, they are a wasted asset, especially at a time when we have to work so much harder in pursuit of prosperity.
“I look forward to the new owners, New Charter, starting redevelopment very quickly. I’m pleased that they have chosen to use Tameside Council to carry out the demolition work.”
The council used the Law of Property Act 1925 to take ownership of the building last summer – the first-ever use of this legislation in the borough.
As a result of the previous owner’s failure to clear the Casablanca’s site, the council was forced to spend more than £70,000 on safety work, after the previous owner’s failure to clear the site. It was in order to recover the cost of the debt following the safety work that the council took action.
Following the action the site was then sold on to new owners New Charter, who have yet to finalise their plans.
“We do have some thoughts and we have had some initial sketches prepared,” said New Charter’s director of development Sean Stafford.
“The final solution for the site will undoubtedly be mainly residential, but the finer details are not yet known.
“We will be attending the forthcoming Stalybridge town centre drop-in event organised by the town team on Saturday, March 9, and we would encourage Stalybridge residents to come and share their thoughts and ideas with us.
“We want to deliver something which acts as a further catalyst to the regeneration of the town centre.”
Andrew Stevenson, chair of Stalybridge Town Team, added: “I am absolutely delighted that the demolition work is under way. This brings us a step closer to unlocking the full potential of this important site in the heart of Stalybridge.”
Published 25 February, 2013