The chair of A Northampton residents association says she was “absolutely thrilled” to see bulldozers move in on the St Edmunds Hospital site after 16 years of fighting to get rid of the eyesore.
On Monday mechanical grabbers moved on to the site in Wellingborough Road and started to pull down parts of the listed Victorian building.
In recent years the former workhouse, built in 1836, it had become a target for squatting, fires and drug taking.
Chairman of the PEMBA resident’s association Dee O’Neill, has fought for 16 years to get the site developed, but has seen various plans set back.
After a retirement village plan was approved by Northampton Borough Council in June last year work on the site was delayed due to issues relating to the drainage and demolition of the site. It looked like it would never start.
But Mrs O’Neil said she was thrilled to see the old workhouse finally start to come down on Monday.
After 16 years I can’t tell you how it feels to see that thing come down.
“The new retirement village is going to be lovely.”
However this week it emerged Northamptonshire based Rochmills Group, an investment company which tried to bring forward a retirement village plan during the early 2000s - is now being brought back onboard the development.
It had sold the land on to Cyprus based Kayalef Holdings in 2012. But a spokesman for Kayalef said the two companies are now going into partnership to finish a new retirement village plan approved by the borough council last year.
Ashley Riley, for Kayalef, said: “Rochmills are a company who are proud of their Northampton roots with a history of delivering high quality care provision which includes the Burlington Care Home Group.
“By forming this new relationship with Kayalef we now have a local based developer working hand in hand with the owner of the land to ensure the project is delivered in a way the town deserves.
“Not being able to secure a viable planning permission for the site prior to the sale in 2012 has always been a source of disappointment for Rochmills. Therefore they are extremely pleased that they have been able to form a partnership with Kayalef that allows this new partnership to bring this site forward and improve the local area.”
Mrs O’Neill said she was glad to see Rochmills back on board, as though they were unsuccessful in their last attempts to develop the site, they had a good track record of keeping the public informed.
“I think it’s great news,” she said. “They always took the residents into consideration. And they are doing so now too. We were worried that the demolition would create too much dust, but they said they would make sure water is sprayed on the dust to dampen it down.
“I went there this morning and they were doing that, which shows they are listening.”