Demolition day looms for Freeman Street blocks

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 7 Jan 2019

Work to transform Grimsby's Freeman Street starts this month.

Bulldozers will move into Freeman Street on January 14 to flatten a large section of its north end.

The work is the first stage of an ambitious masterplan set to revamp a huge swathe of the famous Grimsby shopping street.

The abandoned House of Holland building and the former council office block Freeman House are set to be replaced with modern offices and eco-friendly housing.

The Enrolled Freemen of Grimsby, the land owner and driving force behind the regeneration, has appointed Nottinghamshire-based Bloom Demolition and Excavation Limited to oversee the works.

An artist's impression of how Freeman Street could eventually look and the type of housing planned (Image: Hodson Architects)

With the site already fenced-off, final preparations are being made for the demolition to start within the next fortnight.

The total works are expected to take 12 weeks to complete and will see the 1960s House of Holland building reduced to rubble, through to the disused seven-storey Freeman House and nearby Cox’s Fish and Chip Shop.

Read more: First glimpse at office complex set to transform Freeman Street

Chairman of the Enrolled Freemen, Stephen White, said: “What a fantastic way to start 2019. We are determined to drive forward the regeneration of this once thriving street, and this is a major step towards this.

“Our organisation has a long and proud past in the history and growth of the town and is looking to ensure our present members work to effect positive change and a lasting legacy that future generations will be proud of.”

The type of housing planned for Freeman Street, looking from the rear in Thesiger Street (Image: Hodson Architects)

The Enrolled Freemen took ownership of this section of the street from its former owners following a High Court ruling in spring 2018.

Once flattened, and with renewed business interest in the area thanks to the burgeoning offshore wind industry, the vision is to replace the old buildings with a mixture of state-of-the-art offices, modern eco-friendly housing, some retail units and a landscaped public space.

Freeman Street has become the central focus of efforts by the Freemen, the council and other partners to kickstart a revival in the fortunes of the East Marsh.

The work of the Freemen has received praise from North East Lincolnshire council leader, Councillor Ray Oxby, who said: “This work is to be much applauded as we look at true and lasting regeneration.

"The Town Deal has given us the opportunity of seeing a strategic Masterplan in a much larger context, working with partners and leading to a complete renaissance for the whole area.”

An artist impression of the five-storey office complex planned for the redundant House of Holland and Freeman House site (Image: Hodson Architects)

Artists impressions show how the new complex could render this struggling end of Freeman Street unrecognisable.

It is hoped that this development will provide a catalyst for further major works in the area, with a focus on adjacent sites including land formerly occupied by the high-rise flats.

The demolition of Grimsby's iconic six high rises has created a 10-acre site prime for redevelopment.

Councillor Oxby said he wants to see a "stadium we can all be proud of" on the tower blocks site, but there is still no definite plan for Grimsby Town FC to move there.

North East Lincolnshire Council is also working to capitalise on the landmark, £67m Town Deal signed between the authority and central government back in July.

New horizon for Freeman Street as demolition men move in with a welcome from traders and visitors

The area of Freeman Street, which is to be demolished in the coming weeks, including the former House of Holland store and the multi-storey Freeman House office block and all buildings in between (Image: Rick Byrne / Grimsbylive)

There has been unanimous joy among traders, shoppers and visitors to Freeman Street that redundant buildings will soon be flattened.

But there are mixed views about how the area should be regenerated to bring more 'spirit' back to the East Marsh.

After GrimsbyLive revealed the vision of The Enrolled Freemen of Grimsby to knock down Freeman House and neighbouring empty shops and offices, we asked traders what they thought.

Bulldozers will move in next week to remove the eyesores and change the landscape of the north end of the busy street.

Read more: South Bank railfreight link to be explored after funding win

Steve Harrison of Harrison's news and tobacconist said: "It is great for the area. The good thing is the buildings are at last coming down. The bad thing is there is no firm plan in place for what will be next. It looks a dream putting up five-storey blocks of flats. It looks from the artist's impressions as if whoever has drawn it, is not someone who has ever been here."

He added: "Everyone is saying it is high time something was done. But it is well overdue and no one can see what will replace it in the future."

Owner of Replay Records, Scott Wardle said: "I would like to see the whole site taken over by Grimsby Town FC. It is the best place for a new stadium. That would do me fine. We need footfall and regeneration."

The general manager of Freeman Street Market Sean McGarel said: "The Freemen will go through with it. When they said they would revamp the market six years ago, they did it. When they said they would create a business hub five years ago, they did it. When they say they will build quality homes and offices, they will do it."

The area of Freeman Street, which is to be demolished in the coming weeks, including the former House of Holland store and the multi-storey Freeman House office block and all buildings in between. VOXPOP - John Robertson and his wife, Pamela Robertson, pictured on the popular Freeman Street Market (Image: Rick Byrne / Grimsbylive)

Shoppers John and Pamela Robertson hope the new homes will be of good quality and have gardens for children to play in.

Pamela, 75, said: "I lived down here as a kid. i remember when there were queues at all the stalls and shops. The supermarkets ended that. I love Freeman Street and the market and come here every week and we have chips.

"The market is fine and clean. The area further down needs knocking down. They are redundant buildings, but need to be replaced with nice houses with gardens for children to play in."

Wayne Albery, owner of Ghettopark indoor skate park, in Garibaldi Street (Image: Rick Byrne / Grimsbylive)

Owner of the Ghetto Park, Wayne Albery said: "Houses would be good for the area. North East Lincolnshire Council see Freshney Place as the jewel in their crown so putting in pretty shops that would remain empty is not a good idea. I don't think the real issue is shops. It is about community feeling. It has gone. People don't bother about community anymore unfortunately and it is the young ones around here I feel sorry for."

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