Leeds tower block demolished

With dinosaur-like jaws, a huge grab machine began tearing to pieces one of Leeds's early tower blocks.

It will take a few days to bring down the whole of Carlton Towers in Little London and then another week or so to clear the site.

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The demolition is making way for a complex of apartments and houses, no more than three storeys high.

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This is part of a major housing regeneration project which will also take in Beeston Hill and Holbeck.

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The demolition of these outdated blocks is being done before a contractor is appointed to build new council homes under a Private Finance Initiative scheme.

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The grab machine is one of only two in the country that can reach to a height of nearly 50 metres. It began by nibbling away the top layers of Carlton Towers and soon huge chunks of concrete were crashing to the ground nine storeys below.

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Coun Les Carter, executive member for neighbourhoods and housing, joked: "I wanted to press a button and blow the flats up but Health and Safety wouldn't let me.

"These flats were past their sell-by date and it was not cost-effective to refurbish them.

"The residents were re-housed six months ago, many of them staying in Little London and others moving to other parts of the city."

Lloyd Lythe, 81, a retired warehouseman, lived in the adjoining Carlton Towers block which will be next to go. He watched the demolition and said: "It's a bit sad, I suppose.

"I moved into a flat on the fifth floor of my block in 1959 and was one of the first residents. Now I have been moved to another flat nearby on Carlton Croft."

Coun Penny Ewens (Lib Dem, Hyde Park and Woodhouse) said: "I would say about 80 per cent of the residents have been re-housed locally. It is amazing how many wanted to stay in the area considering the reputation

it has for crime."

In Little London, 125 new council homes will be built and 853 homes will be refurbished.

Environmental improvements will be carried out in the Carltons, Servias, Oatlands and Lovells and there will be new shops, a new housing office and new community centre.

At Beeston Hill and Holbeck, there will be 275 new council homes and 388 homes will be refurbished. There will be environmental improvements to the Meynells, Ninevahs and Gaitskells.