Fifteen new workers have been welcomed to Teesworks as they start to help transform the iconic Steel House into a new base for the full redevelopment of the 4,500-acre site.
The building has been a significant landmark since it was opened in 1978 as the former headquarters of British Steel for its Redcar steelworks operation.
The main six storey, 240,000sq ft, building and the connected 24,000sq ft data centre have been mothballed since the closure of SSI Steelworks in October 2015 but will now be given a new lease of life.
To kick-start the project, work has begun to strip the building, remove more than 3,500 pieces of redundant furniture and equipment and establish safe zones to allow surveyors and architects to investigate the condition of the building ahead of further remediation.
It is planned that this initial clearance and survey work will take three to six months, with works continuing over the following 18 to 24 months, by which time the first tenants are expected to arrive at Steel House.
The workers on site were recruited via Teesworks Skills Academy, established to help local people take advantage of job opportunities at Teesworks by training them to gain the skills they need and linking them with employers who are recruiting across the site.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “Just a few short months ago, I revealed plans of how we were going to preserve, upgrade and redevelop Steel House, bringing it back into use and into the 21st century and today workers are on the ground to help make that vision a reality.
“These are the latest well-paid, good-quality jobs we’re creating right here right now getting people into work through the Teesworks Skills Academy, which is already a great success with more than 1,000 people submitting their CVs to date, on top of almost 3,000 enquiries.
“I have always said that, where practical, we’d try to keep some of the site’s most iconic structures and this work will give a much-needed upgrade to the building. When complete, it will project the confidence we have in the site and, along with the new state-of-the-art gatehouse, will help wow investors looking to base themselves here.”
Mary Lanigan, leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “This is what it’s all about – creating quality jobs right here in Redcar and Cleveland. It’s not just about these construction jobs, fantastic as they are especially for these 15 families, but creating an environment which can attract serious investment from across the UK and the world.
“Steel House is an iconic building and I’m sure further improvements, if plans are approved, will help us impress the investors we need.”
Plans to transform the building and landscape the surrounding land include a creche, coffee shop and gym, with upper floors providing office space.