Photo gallery: New era for Hillington Square in King’s Lynn
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Builders have started the £30m transformation of the Hillington Square estate in King's Lynn.
Onlookers watched as the main part of Valentine House, which contains nine flats, was pulled down by a long-reach excavator. The remainder will be carefully demolished by hand.
Tony Hall, chief executive of Freebridge Community Housing, said: 'I am delighted this stage of the work to regenerate Hillington Square is under way. The opening up on the estate with this demolition is a very exciting part of a redevelopment that will make a real difference to the area and the town as a whole.'
Freebridge teamed up with designer Wayne Hemingway to revamp the 1960s estate, as part of a four-year programme developed with the community.
Mr Hall said: 'It will connect the main part of Lynn with an old part of the town, so it's a great opportunity.
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'Perceptions of the estate have been on a downer, but this will help to reconnect it with the town.'
Residents who lived in the flats set to be demolished were moved out to other accommodation, with the option to return once work was completed.
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However, Mr Hall said most residents had chosen not to return as they were settled elsewhere.
Valentine House resident, Ruth Gammon, 45, who has lived on the estate for 14 years, said: 'It's very exciting seeing it all happen. They had to do something – to make it more open and safe.'
Social housing experts Lovell began work in summer 2013 on the redevelopment project.
In this first phase, work will also include the external and internal refurbishment of 58 flats at Greyfriars and Millfleet, to be completed at the end of the year.
Lovell regional director Tony Tann said: 'This is a significant moment in the transformation of Hillington Square. The demolition of part of Valentine House will have a major impact on the way the estate looks.
'It is an important stage in the delivery of the vision developed by Freebridge and the local community for the estate's future.'
Residents have been able to tour the site and talk to the Lovell team about any queries. There are also training and careers advice and work experience placements on the site for students, and schoolchildren can take part in a health and safety presentation.