Demolition crews move in on Monday to flatten the former Huddersfield Sports Centre.

And the man behind the clearance project admitted: “It is a big job”.

Lee Rowbotham works for Demex Ltd, the South Yorkshire firm given the chance to level a huge slice of the town centre.

Demolition of two tower blocks of flats, the former sports centre, a car park and former Kirklees Council buildings will start next week.

Rotherham-based Demex have been appointed to carry out the work, which is expected to be completed in autumn.

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No decision has been made on a final use for the sprawling Southgate site and the Kirklees Council Cabinet will be considering a draft development brief and proposals for the end use later this year.

In the draft Local Plan, the site – which includes the sports centre, the Ibbotson and Lonsbrough flats, Pine Street car park, the council’s former computer centre and a number of empty commercial units – is proposed to be allocated for mixed use development.

But first the site has to be cleared and that’s where Lee and his team come in.

Demolition of Huddersfield Sports Centre and neighbouring flats begins.

They will spend the first few days erecting hoardings around the site to protect pedestrians and drivers, and bringing in the cabins and machinery they will need for the job.

Some of the facts are fascinating:

  • About 99% of the material will be recycled
  • That includes timber, electrical cables and pipes from the flats and buildings
  • Specialists will clear asbestos from many of the buildings well before they are demolished
  • The giant tower blocks will be brought down bit by bit by a giant “pulveriser”
  • Rubble from the buildings will be used to level the site for future development

“It’s a major job but we have done similar projects before.” said Lee.

“We demolished the former Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield which was a massive job and one which was a bit of a hot potato, as many did not want to see it go.

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“The Huddersfield job will take us 30 weeks to do but people won’t see a lot to start with.

“I expect the first demolition will be of the former Pine Street car park, probably toward the end of next week.

“We will be bringing down the tower blocks piece by piece, using a pulveriser and a high-rise excavator. It uses a telescopic arm to grab a chunk of masonry, chews it up into a small piece and drops it.

Demolition of Huddersfield Sports Centre and neighbouring flats begins.

“We had considered blowing up the flats but there are live services such as gas and water and a busy road beneath them so it was not practical.

“The vast majority of material will be recycled, something like 99% of the stuff on site. Timber and metals will be taken away to be recycled elsewhere while we will crush the concrete and stone on site and leave it as hardcore. All the voids and cellars will be filled and we will leave the site clear for whatever comes next”.

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Specialists will be used to clear asbestos from nay of the buildings and that will be disposed off in special tips.

Up to a dozen people will be working on the site at any one time and special curtains will be used to stop dust and debris getting on the roads and pathways around the site.

Clr Peter McBride, Cabinet member for Place, said: “This is the next significant step in the regeneration of the town centre.

“The new sports centre has been open for almost a year now, the Richmond flats were replaced by Harold Wilson Court in 2014, and we are ready to move ahead with creating an exciting future use for this key gateway to Huddersfield centre.”