Firm hits back in homes row

Accrington Observer - - YOUR VIEWS -

JON MACPHER­SON

AHOUSING developer has dis­missed as ‘un­true’ claims that a rise in anti-so­cial be­hav­iour is putting peo­ple off liv­ing in a new multi- mil­lion- pound de­vel­op­ment.

PlaceFirst was re­spond­ing to claims made by ward coun­cil­lor Tony Dob­son that ‘a num­ber of res­i­dents’ were leav­ing the Wood­nook area of Ac­cring­ton be­cause of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and that there was a ‘ 20 to 25pc va­cancy rate’ on a project to trans­form more than 150 homes.

The company said it ‘does not have a prob­lem with anti-so­cial be­hav­iour’ and that the de­vel­op­ment ‘con­tin­ues to be pop­u­lar, with very low void rates’.

Speak­ing at a re­cent cab­i­net meeting, Coun Dob­son said: “I went to a public meeting and there were a num­ber of is­sues from lo­cal res­i­dents about the level of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour in the Wood nook area and the ef­fect that it’s hav­ing on PlaceFirst.

“A num­ber of res­i­dents were high­light­ing the fact that they are now leav­ing the de­vel­op­ment. Cer­tainly when I spoke to the lead gen­tle­man he is con­cerned about fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity go­ing for­ward.”

But PlaceFirst bosses said they are com­mit­ted to the project and that Coun Dob­son’s com­ments were ‘fac­tu­ally un­true and un­sub­stan­ti­ated’.

The developer said that only one house­hold had re­quested to ‘ter­mi­nate their ten­ancy early’ af­ter their car was stolen.

A PlaceFirst spokesper­son said: “This in it­self is not a crime unique to Wood­nook and is a com­mon op­por­tunist crime that hap­pens in ur­ban cen­tres across the UK. The res­i­dents had just started a 12-month ten­ancy but we al­lowed them to ter­mi­nate the ten­ancy agree­ment early. In the two years or so since the first fam­i­lies moved into their new homes, we have had no re­ports of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour from our res­i­dents other than the iso­lated in­ci­dent raised at the com­mu­nity meeting.”

PlaceFirst said they have com­pleted 60 new homes with the oc­cu­pancy rate at ‘just un­der 95pc’ and are now plan- ning the fi­nal stage of the scheme bring­ing 26 units ‘back to life as high qual­ity homes for fam­i­lies’.

Bosses said they are also mak­ing fur­ther in­vest­ment into the area and now have a ‘live-in care­taker’ to keep the area ‘to the high­est stan­dard’.

A plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for six lock­able steel gates on al­ley­ways be­tween South Street and Booth Street, Royds Street and Au­gusta Street, and Wil­fred Street was ap­proved by the coun­cil last week.

Ap­pli­cants PlaceFirst said the two-me­tre tall steel gates would help re­duce crime and re­strict ac­cess to key hold­ers. They car­ried out a con­sul­ta­tion with all 93 af­fected prop­er­ties and re­ceived 100 per cent sup­port from the 80 which re­sponded.

Leave space for po­lice com­ment.

Wood­nook in Ac­cring­ton, and, inset, coun­cil­lor Tony Dob­son

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