Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Iconic 'rocket' to be demolished

The Dunston Rocket

Plans to demolish an iconic block of Tyneside flats have been backed by English Heritage.

The 29-storey Derwent Tower in Gateshead - nicknamed the Dunston Rocket because of its spaceship shape - failed to gain listed status.

It means Gateshead Council can progress with plans to redevelop the site.

The 280ft-tall tower block opened to residents in 1973. The striking design, created by Owen Luder Partnership, was beset with problems from the beginning.

The car parks flooded and pigeons infiltrated the 10,000 gallon water tanks which split the 10th and 11th floors.

Water pressure was low, lifts frequently broke and damp was a major problem in many of the 196 flats.

Gateshead Council plans to replace the tower and its 116 adjoining maisonettes with new homes and shops.

'Constant irritation'

Councillor Angela Armstrong, cabinet member for housing, said: "We welcome English Heritage's decision not to list Derwent Tower - and we think the 95% of residents who live under its shadow and who've told us it is a blight on their landscape will agree.

"Many people see the Derwent Tower as representing all that was wrong with the past, when buildings were designed and created rather than places to live.

"The tower has been a huge drain on our resources and a constant irritation to the residents and community who had to live under its shadow."

She said the council expected demolition of the tower, which is now empty, to begin next year.

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