Blackpool and The Fylde College students aim high at Queens Park

Students from Blackpool and The Fylde College aiming for construction careers got a head start by visiting the major housing regeneration project under way at the Queens Park estate in Blackpool.

Housing regeneration specialist Lovell took the ten teenagers – who are studying for the Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment qualification – on a tour of the £22 million redevelopment programme being carried out for Blackpool Council. Lovell began work in August on the first phase of the scheme to create 198 contemporary houses and apartments. The college students heard from the Lovell team about the extensive preparatory work now taking place before the start of demolition work, talked to them about their job roles, toured the site and took in a panoramic view from the top floor of one of the blocks.

"This was a great experience for these students at the very start of their construction careers," says John Smith, curriculum leader for construction professional studies at Blackpool and The Fylde College. "Visits like this enable students to talk to people employed in the business, find out the skills they'll need to build their own careers and get a feel for what's it like actually working in construction. We always want our students to engage with real-life projects which are happening in their community so to have this access to the Queens Park scheme is perfect. We are delighted to have been able to link up with Lovell and hope to arrange further visits as the redevelopment goes ahead."

"The estate and its tower blocks in particular have been a key part of the townscape for many years," says Lovell regeneration manager Bruce Lister. "As our team helps the estate move into an exciting new phase of its history, involving the local community is very important to us and we were extremely pleased to have been able to welcome the Blackpool and The Fylde students to the redevelopment, give them the chance to meet our team and find out what we are doing on site."

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council cabinet member for housing, comments: "It's great that Lovell and Blackpool and The Fylde College are working together. Giving students practical experience of a real life regeneration project which will make such a difference to Blackpool can only be a good thing. It's very important the Council and its contractors engage with and help young people with training, learning and employment."

The Lovell team is currently preparing properties for demolition, stripping out the interiors and arranging disconnection of services. The estate's three-storey maisonettes will be the first to be demolished with work set to start in early November. That will be followed by the phased demolition of the Charles Court and Ashworth Court tower blocks. Rather than a controlled explosion, the towers will be dismantled section by section, using long reach excavators equipped with 'peckers' and 'munchers' (heavy-duty breakers).

Residents have moved out of the blocks earmarked for demolition. In keeping with its commitment to working with consideration for the local community, the Lovell team is liaising closely with residents still living on the estate to ensure they are kept informed as the redevelopment goes ahead and that any inconvenience is kept to a minimum. Lovell is scheduled to start building work in December on the first phase of construction consisting of 92 new homes – 70 apartments and 22 houses.