A £265m project to transform a key site in Newcastle finally got under way yesterday.
After years of delays and setbacks, work to transform an area of Newcastle’s West End finally began.
And joining residents and developers yesterday for the occasion was Alma Wheeler, who grew up in Scotswood and still lives in the area.
She said: “I have lived here all of my life, first in Roberts Street which was demolished as part of the development. There used to be rows and rows of terrace houses here.
“It was also very industrial, I had a very charmed childhood here.
“We have waited so long for this work to start.
“It has been 13 years since we were first threatened with demolition and people forced to leave their homes but everything has a sell-by-date.
“Scotswood had old housing and boarded up old developments and it had just reached its sell-by-date.
“It is pleasing to see them building on the land and to know that upheaval wasn’t for nothing.
“Hopefully the knock-on effect of the new housing will be very positive on those already living here.”
Residents met yesterday with staff from Newcastle City Council, Barratt Homes and Keepmoat - collectively known as the New Tyne West development Company (NTWDC) – for the ceremonial turf-cutting at the vast riverside site.
The group aims to build 1,800 home sustainable neighbourhood in the next 15 to 20 years.
More than half of the housing built will be for families with three and four bedrooms. Now under way is the first stage of work to create 377 homes.
Council leader Coun Nick Forbes said: “This is an important milestone in the rebuilding of Scotswood and we are very grateful for the hard work and commitment of the local community in helping us reach this point.
“In our Local Plan we have prepared the ground for a successful future with a commitment to creating 14,000 new jobs and building 21,000 new homes for a growing population, with most of those much-needed homes on brownfield sites like Scotswood.”
Work on the ambitious scheme started in 2000 when the council was Labour-run.
In 2003 residents opposed demolition and a year later when the Lib Dems took over the council the plans were sent back to the drawing board.
While there were other delays along the way, in 2012 planners approved a scheme to see more than 1,500 homes built in Scotswood over the next 15 years.
Duncan Bowman, development director with the NTWDC, said: “I am delighted after all the hard work and preparation we are at a point where house building can begin. All those concerned deserve great credit for making this happen, not least the local residents who have shown great patience and support when things have taken longer than hoped - as is always the case with major projects such as this.”