CAUTIOUS optimism has greeted the demolition of a long-standing Chichester eyesore.
Diggers moved in on the Heritage Site in Winden Avenue on Monday (November 11) and began demolishing the derelict and decaying buildings.
“Everyone’s quite pleased that work’s happening now,” said Caroline Dale, a resident of Winden Avenue.
The site has stood empty since 2008, when elderly residents were moved out of social housing to make way for a multi-million pound development provided by Hyde Martlet, which has failed to materialise.
The delays have outraged residents in the past, with it being labelled ‘soul destroying’, a ‘white elephant’ and an ‘eyesore’.
Houses in close proximity even had rat problems from the site and it was frequently used by squatters and drug users.
“The trouble is a lot of people are still quite angry about what’s happened and why it’s taken so long,” said Mrs Dale.
“I don’t want to say now we’re over the moon because we’re not, because people can’t understand why it’s taken so long.
“I think we can just look to the future and keep on going.”
Drew Smith was recently appointed as the site’s developer and the scheme was awarded a £1.9m grant from the Homes and Communities Agency, providing it is completed by March, 2015.
Previous tenders had fallen through for the construction of the 56 affordable homes and 36 for sale on the open market.
Residents in the past have complained about a lack of contact from Hyde Martlet, however Mrs Dale said things had now improved.
“I have to say Drew Smith and Hyde Martlet have kept in touch with us.
“Everything that’s gone on in the past seems to have moved forwards.”
Work has gone on in the past few weeks dismantling windows and recycling waste.
The move has been welcomed and residents now look to the future.
Mrs Dale added residents had now requested a meeting with the developer to review the plans for the new development again, as it had been so long since they were first put forward.