WORK has started to finally demolish what remains of Tipner greyhound track.
Residents and councillors have spoken of their relief that the structure – which has been repeatedly set on fire by arsonists – would soon be completely flattened.
They also voiced hope that it would herald the start of the £130m regeneration of Tipner, which is set to begin this year after major planning applications were approved at the end of 2011.
Demolition began before Christmas but had to be halted when workmen became concerned the gas supply might not have been switched off.
But an investigation determined the site was safe and four men driving excavators returned to it yesterday for a last push to finish the job.
Site manager for Portsmouth Demolition and Salvage, Dale Green, said: ‘It was slow going yesterday and we had a couple of technical hitches but we hope to have the high-rise bit down by Friday.
‘We’ve got a couple of weeks to finish it all. A few of the lads used to go down to the track regularly in the evenings, so in a way it’s a shame to see it go.
‘But it’ll be interesting to see what replaces it.’
The track was on land owned by the Tipner Regeneration Company and the South East England Development Agency, but has remained closed and derelict since the company running it went into liquidation last year.
Sean White, 46, lives in nearby Stamshaw and said it was about time the owners made the site safe.
‘There was a point where people were starting a fire a week in there,’ he said. ‘I liked to use it when it was open, but closed it was a dangerous menace and it will be good to finally see the back of it.
Hilsea ward councillor and Conservative finances chief Donna Jones said the start of the regeneration was great news for the city.
She said: ‘I’m delighted that work has started so quickly after the application was approved.
‘The regeneration will be an absolutely essential development for Portsmouth, it’s going to create jobs and bring investment into the city.
‘It must go ahead now; we have the strategy drawn up, we have government money tied up in it, and all the pieces are finally in place after 30 years of hard work and planning.’