THE historic Dorman Long Tower will be demolished after a council approved an application for it to be torn down later this month.
Redcar and Cleveland Council today (Friday) gave the go-ahead to demolish the historical tower which was built in 1955.
The application was lodged by South Tees Development Corporation, chaired by Ben Houchen, last month to tear down the former coal tower in South Bank, Redcar.
A report by engineers Atkins claims ‘ongoing and irreversible’ damage to the structure and highlighted costs running into the millions would only extend its life by a few years.
The report claims it could cost up to £9m to secure the structure and keep it maintained.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It had always been our plan to keep the Dorman Long Tower as a symbol of our rich iron and steelmaking heritage as we pressed forward with the wider Teesworks redevelopment, but to do so, the numbers would have to stack up.
“Disappointingly, this report shows that all we would achieve by doing this is burdening the taxpayer with costs for something that would have to come down – at a higher cost – in just a few short years anyway, because of the irreversible damage it sustained due to it being left to wrack and ruin.
“We have to be realistic and we can’t put the jobs of tomorrow at risk. Our investment needs to be directed towards securing these good-quality, well-paid jobs that are committed to the site now, and those that will follow.
“While the past has played an important part, we now must look to the future. GE Renewable Energy’s mammoth wind turbine blade facility will support 2,250 of these roles for people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and this project, and others like it, must be our priority.
“As well as the South Tees Development Corporation Board agreeing to this difficult decision, the Teesworks Heritage Taskforce have had the opportunity to review the information available. We will obviously continue to work with them to understand what can be salvaged after the demolition and how this can feed into all of our hard work to preserve and record the heritage of the site.”
A spokesperson from Redcar and Cleveland Council, said: “The Council currently has an application for Prior Approval for Demolition of Dorman Long Tower, which differs from a planning application which are normally determined by the Council’s Regulatory Committee.
“The relevant legislation prescribes what the Council can take into account when it receives a prior approval submission.
“In the case of demolition, the Local Planning Authority can only consider the method of demolition and the aftercare of the site. If the Local Planning Authority has no issues in this respect, then it is likely that prior approval will not be required.
“Applications for Prior Approval for Demolition also differ from that of a regular planning application in that the regulations prescribe that the consultation process for such applications which is limited to the display of a site notice by the applicant. Legislation states the applicant must display a site notice on or near the land on which the building to be demolished is sited and must leave the notice in place for not less than 21 days in the period of 28 days beginning with the date on which the application was submitted to the local planning authority.
“The applicant in their submission has provided a copy of the notice which is dated 19 August 2021 and states that any responses to the notice should be submitted to the Local Planning Authority before 9 September 2021.
“The Dorman Long Tower is not listed and does not lie in an area of special control and so it benefits from no protection under the Planning Act. As such, the Council cannot consider any heritage considerations in considering the Prior Approval application.”
Speaking last week, Carl Quartermain, Labour leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, who started a petition and has campaigned to save the historic tower, said: “It’s really disappointing that we’re losing industrial heritage – part of the identity of the area.
“When you think about the potential for visitor economy that comes from heritage sites, not just Dorman Long but the Blast Furnace – it’s the most iconic of structures.”
Former Redcar MP Anna Turley tweeted: “Wow. So thats it. Ben Houchen’s Teesworks will be demolishing the historic Dorman Long tower and losing one of the last iconic industrial landmarks on Teesside.
“And on a day where hundreds of jobs are being lost at the mighty Cleveland Bridge which has a great industrial history but should also have a great industrial future.”