One of the most disliked buildings in the north-east of England is finally to be demolished, planners have confirmed.
Westgate House, right, is to be demolished
A £15m scheme to replace the derelict Westgate House and Norwich Union House on Newcastle's Westgate Road has been approved by the city council.
Developers hope to start demolition work on the site, which spans a busy commuter road, later this year.
Newcastle City Council has imposed conditions on the plans, which will affect construction and materials used.
Both the buildings have been empty for years. Last year George Ferguson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, included Westgate House on an X-list of buildings to speed up their demolition.
Westgate House is owned by regional development agency One NorthEast, which bought it so the site could be regenerated. Westgate Road Newcastle is part of the Centreland Group, which owns Norwich Union House.
The scheme includes 94 apartments and 10,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space.
Centreland's regional manager, Neil Adamson, said: "Newcastle City Council has taken the right decision in allowing this development to go ahead and is one which I am sure will be equally popular with the wider community in the city and beyond."
John Holmes, One NorthEast director of regeneration and tourism, said: "With planning permission now granted, these plans can now radically transform this part of the city, bringing new life with new residents being attracted to apartments and regeneration through retail and leisure opportunities."
Demolition work should start on the site later this summer, with construction work beginning in 2006.
A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said the plans were approved only after more than 20 conditions had been added to the application, including those covering the use of suitable building materials and demolition procedures.
He said work still had to be done on how to manage the massive disruption to traffic that the demolition process will cause.