DEMOLITION work has begun on a rundown block of flats and shops as part of the long-awaited regeneration of The Parade in Blacon.
Diggers have now started flattening the dilapidated buildings as part of the £19.5 million redevelopment which aims to breathe new life in to Blacon.
More than 60 new homes, shops, community buildings and a health centre will be built with the work expected to take be completed in about two years.
A new market square will be created and the existing shops on Tomlins Terrace will be refurbished.
Sanctuary Group, which owns Chester and District Housing Trust (CDHT), will manage the project alongside Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Cheshire West and Cheshire Council (CWaC).
David Soothill, head of development for Sanctuary, said: “The plans for Blacon Parade are far-reaching and life enhancing, and Sanctuary Group is excited to be part of this project.
“New housing is a fundamental part of the scheme, with the creation of 62 affordable homes for rent. This will include 36 apartments especially for the over 55s as well as eight one-bedroom apartments and a mix of 18 two and three bedroom houses.”
Redeveloping The Parade neighbourhood has been on the agenda for 10 years but the project stalled during the economic downturn.
There were fears the project would never materialise, but the transformation has now become a reality.
A special ceremony was held last month to mark the start of the project with the Lord Mayor of Chester, Jill Houlbrook, pupils from The Arches Community Primary School and Blacon residents.
Mr Soothill said: “We understand the positive impact that this new housing and other aspects of the development will have on the lives of so many within the local community and that’s why we invited a mix of local people along to help us mark the start of the work.”
During the ceremony Sanctuary Group and contractors Rowlinson Constructions created a sand-pit on site where the Cllr Houlbrook and children were invited to dig the sand to symbolise the start of building a brighter future for all.
Blacon has about 16,000 residents and the redevelopment aims to improve their health, welfare, living standards, education and employment opportunities.
The scheme will have a phased completion, with the housing due to be ready in March, 2015 and the whole project being completed in November, 2015.
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity on CWaC, said: “This is a good day for Blacon and one we’ve looked forward to for a long time.
“It has taken a great deal of effort and determination to reach this stage.
“The benefits, however, will be many, from local jobs to modern homes to a fantastic range of facilities.”