Retailer leads redevelopment at ICI site

Garden centre to be built on the site of concrete eyesore in north of England

One of Britain’s ugliest buildings is to be demolished to make way for a garden centre. Billingham House on Teeside, the former hub of ICI’s worldwide fertiliser operations, was sold to London-based investment company Bizzy Bee in 1995. The nine-storey building has been left to rot since then. Demolition will start next month after Stockton Borough Council granted planning for the site’s use as a garden centre. A deal with a major national retailer is in negotiation. Another area of the site will be redeveloped for small businesses. The chief executive of Edinburgh-based garden centre chain Dobbies, James Barnes, said he could not confirm or deny his chain of garden centres was involved. He added: “It is difficult for us to comment as yet.” Stockton Borough Council planning committee chairman Mick Stoker said: “This application is most welcome locally. It will allow the former ICI office site in Billingham, which is now derelict, to become commercially viable once more. Hopefully, the applicant will secure the funding for its demolition and provide a more pleasant vista to the town entrance for both residents and visitors.” A plan to turn the building into a call centre foundered because its concrete core made open-plan office restyling impossible.

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