The demolition team has moved in to clear a former college campus in the hope it will make way for a new town centre development.
The old East Durham College site off Burnhope Way and Essington Way in Peterlee has stood empty since 2009, when courses moved to Willerby Grove, followed by Tesco’s decision two years ago to axe its plans to build one of its Extra stores on the land.
Now, after the derelict building became a magnet for vandals, thieves and arsonists, the structure is being knocked down as the supermarket company works to attract a buyer for the plot.
It comes after the library service moved out of the attached building after Tesco signed a deal for the property from Durham County Council for £846,000, with the authority working to create a new service within the town’s leisure centre.
Tesco spokesman Mark Thomas said: “We’re pleased to be making good progress with demolition at our Peterlee site and hope to have the majority of the work completed before Christmas.
“When the library is relocated in January, we’ll be able to finish the work entirely and talk seriously to interested buyers.
Ultimately, we’re working hard to make sure the site is sold for the benefit of Peterlee.Mark Thomas
“Ultimately, we’re working hard to make sure the site is sold for the benefit of Peterlee.”
Tesco’s plan to open a 400-job supermarket on the land was ditched alongside more than 40 others after a drop in the company’s performance and as it worked to protect its existing workforce.
The firm had battled hard as three other sites, one as part of Castle Dene shopping centre, another by Morrisons for the former North Blunts Primary School on land in Tweed Close and the third at Dalton Park, also bid to win planning permission.
The proposals for the expansion of the town’s shopping centre were approved, but failed to materialise, while the Morrisons scheme nearby was turned down.
The firm went on to sign a 25-year lease for the supermarket building constructed at Dalton Park, which was given final approval after the phase two plans to expand the shopping outlet were called in by the Government, but is yet to move in due to its own review of its business.
A temporary library is set to serve Peterlee once that section of the site is demolished.
It will close on Friday, December 15, with public access to computers to be set up in the leisure centre, with a book loan service to operate and a space to be set aside for groups to meet.
The new library area will open in the autumn.