If one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter, one person’s eyesore is another person’s much-loved local landmark.
Standing at the back of Westmoreland House as demolition work on the derelict building was about to begin on Wednesday morning, Lori Streich from the Carriageworks Action Group had mixed emotions.
“I’m choked up,” Lori said. “It was an amazing building, a beautiful building, state of the art in the 60s and it has had such a short life. That’s why it’s so sad to see it go.
“But it’s also fantastically exciting that we have got to this stage. It’s fantastic that development is taking place. It feels like today is the day when things are definitely going forward.”
Soon before midday, a rotary pulveriser (known colloquially as a muncher) begun nibbling away at one corner of the building, bricks cascading to the floor below.
“Today is an exciting day,” said Stuart Gaiger, director of The PG Group, developers of the site, as he eagerly awaited the muncher to start nibbling.
“It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and it really is a massive milestone, clearing the way for the new scheme which will be replacing this derelict building.”
The design of that scheme is in no small part due to the perseverance of the Carriageworks Action Group, with initial plans for a gated community strongly opposed.
The demolition of Westmoreland House and the restoration of the neighbouring Carriageworks will create 112 new homes as well as ten business units.
Building work is expected to start in spring next year and completed in 2021.