'Eyesore' flats in Penarth to be demolished

Image caption,
Demolition started on Monday at the flats, which have views over Cardiff Bay

Work to demolish an "eyesore" housing estate recently ranked as Wales' ugliest unique eyesore is to start.

The 329 council-owned flats in Penarth Heights - known as the Billybanks - in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan are in a prime location, overlooking Cardiff Bay.

But they have become a target for vandals, thieves and squatters over the years.

They will be demolished and replaced by 377 houses and apartments.

In a survey of 5,000 people for the Beautiful Britain magazine, it was voted the ugliest unique eyesore in Wales, and the eighth worst in Britain.

The demolition work marks a turning point in the redevelopment of the 1960s-built estate, which has been blighted by problems and delays.

The decision to redevelop the site - a thriving community in the '60s, '70s and '80s - was taken in 1998 and the homes were largely emptied by 2002.

But, while most residents were relocated from the 17-acre site, four families refused to leave as plans stalled.

A public inquiry was called over compulsory purchase orders to move the residents, delaying plans that were then further held up by the recession.

However, developer Crest Nicholson announced in April that they would be building the new houses and apartments, 20% of which will be affordable homes.

Construction work is due to start in October and is expected to be completed by 2018.

Paul Church, the councillor for St Augustines who also holds the portfolio for Housing & Community Safety on the Vale of Glamorgan council, said he was "delighted" at the progress.

"It's going to be wonderful to see these old derelict buildings being brought down," he said.

"It's been a long time coming to this phase and obviously people have been fed up with the way the buildings have deteriorated over the years and I think it's fair to say just about everyone will be really glad to see them demolished."

It is understood negotiations with two tenants who have refused to move from their properties on the estate are continuing.

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