Updated: Friday, 7th August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Brighter future for Tameside ‘bombsite’ as demolition work begins on derelict Casablanca Health Club

Brighter future for Tameside ‘bombsite’ as demolition work begins on derelict Casablanca Health Club

 By Pippa Field

 A derelict building considered to be one of Stalybridge’s biggest eyesores started to be pulled down today as the council aims to redevelop the image of the town.

Standing empty since being gutted by fire in 2005, the former Casablanca Health Club in Armentieres Square has widely been seen as a blight on the town centre.

But with demolition work commencing at 9am, Councillor John Taylor, deputy leader of Tameside Council, was hopeful for a brighter future for the site.

“There 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,” he said.

“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 question of what to do with the burnt out shell of the building was one of the town’s most discussed topics in recent years.

Due to the previous owner’s failure to clear the site, the council was forced to spend more than £70,000 to secure the safety of the site for the public.

To recover such outgoings, the council then 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.

Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure the building did not remain derelict since his May 2010 election.

Having even flagged up the problems in Parliament last year – including referring to the former health club as a ‘bombsite’ – the MP was delighted with the developments.

“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,” he said.

Tameside Council are carrying out the demolition work on behalf of housing association New Charter, after successfully selling the site to them recently.

The quick demolition move drew praise from Mr Reynolds who welcomed the chance to breathe new life into the town.

He added: “New owners New Charter have already proved themselves to be good neighbours, by acting so quickly and decisively to get rid of this eyesore.

“Now there is a real opportunity to breathe new life into this canalside 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.

“I hope the progress that has been made on this site can now be replicated elsewhere in the town.”

Yet to firm up the exact plans, Sean Stafford, director of development at New Charter, revealed the association would be welcoming input from residents regarding the site’s future.

“We want to deliver something which acts as a further catalyst to the regeneration of the town centre,” he said.

“We do have some thoughts and we have had some initial sketches prepared. 

“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.”

Picture courtesy of Nigel Homer via Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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