THE demolition of houses on one of the UK’s most polluted streets got  underway today.

Hafodyrynys Road, near Crumlin, in Caerphilly borough previously recorded the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide in the UK, outside of London.

Work to demolish 23 homes on the street began on Thursday, October 14.

The demolition is intended to improve air quality in the area, where pollution was being trapped between the houses and the trees opposite, while a busy road sandwiched was between them.

Critics have also highlighted the irony of removing houses rather than vehicles that make emissions.

The demolition work is being carried out by Aberdare-based civil engineering and development firm Walters.

The leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, Philippa Marsden, said that demolishing the houses will “improve the lives of many people”.

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Labour councillor Marsden added: “We have had to follow a long and complex process to get here, but throughout this we have always put the interests of the residents of Hafodyrynys first.

“We explored a number of options, but demolition of these properties will allow us to achieve air quality compliance in the shortest possible timeframe.”

The National Wales: Hafodyrynys 2   October 14

The council’s cabinet agreed to buy the houses from residents for 50 per cent above market value in 2019.

In July 2020, the Welsh Government endorsed plans submitted by the council to demolish the houses.

The demolition was expected to begin in May, and the houses have been boarded up since January, but was delayed twice by the council, with Covid-19 said to have affected the scheme.

Martin Brown, who lived at 15 Woodside Terrace, on Hafodyrynys Road, for 50 years, watched as the demolition began.

Mr Brown said he felt “relieved” that it was finally happening and added: “I’m a little bit happy, obviously there’s a little bit of sadness, but all in all I’m relieved to see that these houses are being taken down.”

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In total, 23 properties will be demolished along Hafodyrynys Road. It is expected to take 14 weeks.

Maria Godfrey, team leader for pollution control in environmental health at the council, has been responsible for the issue on Hafodyrynys Road since 2009.

The National Wales: Council leader Phillipa MarsdenCouncil leader Phillipa Marsden

She said: “It has been part of my work for so many years and it’s great to see a project come to a conclusion.

“But for residents it is a bittersweet moment. These have been their homes, their lives – so there are lots of different feelings this morning.”

Three of the properties on Hafodyrynys Road are expected to be fully demolished by the end of next week, and work will start on Woodside Terrace at the end of this month.

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