BULLDOZERS are about to move in to flatten dozens of run-down council flats in South Shields.
The move comes after a barrage of complaints over the structurally-unsound and damp-ridden properties at Farding Square in Marsden.
Now, South Tyneside Council has pledged to replace the 71 flats with a multi-million-pound project to create homes “fit for the 21st century”.
Tenants are expected to start moving out within weeks to allow the complex to be razed.
Today, the news that the flats are to be flattened was greeted with joy by residents.
Sheila Beckett, 54, said: “It’s great news and absolutely the right decision. All we have ever asked for is a decent home, and now, at last, we are going to get it.
“This is a great area. We’re close to the sea, transport links are good, and we have everything we need on our doorstep.
“I’d like to move back here after the new homes are built, preferably into a bungalow, because of my partner Robert’s health needs.”
Donna Minchell, 37, added: “This is brilliant. It’s never been the area that was the problem. It’s nice and quiet.
“Now, we are finally going to have homes that we can be proud of.”
The decision, following a review of options for the low-rise blocks, was made at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s cabinet.
Coun Jim Foreman, the council’s lead member for housing and transport, said: “We are committed to providing high-quality homes, but our study showed that Farding Square is no longer able to meet people’s expectations for modern living.
“The blocks need major structural work and internal improvements, as well as investment to improve disability access, and this would cost several million pounds to complete.
“With that in mind, the best option is to demolish the old blocks and offer alternative homes to residents.
“We know this will be an unsettling time for residents, but the council will do everything it can to help people consider their options and make the process as smooth as possible.”
The six blocks, made up of 72 flats, were built in 1953 to meet the accommodation needs of post-Second World War Britain, but they have been beset by significant problems caused by structural issues.
In addition, the blocks do not have lifts, and a lack of parking spaces means residents are often forced to park on narrow surrounding roads, creating problems for essential services and emergency vehicles.
The council will start the process of helping residents to move to new homes over the next few weeks.
Regular drop-in sessions are being organised so that people affected by the changes can find out more.
The nearby Farding Lake Court Housing Plus scheme for older people is unaffected by the changes.
Detailed plans for the new homes lined up to replace the Farding Square blocks are expected to be drawn up over the coming months.
Time for the bulldozers ... Page 6