RBH pledge to flats res­i­dents

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Da­mon.wilkin­son@men­media.co.uk @Da­monWilkin­son6

HOUSING bosses say they can ‘guar­an­tee’ Col­lege Bank and Lower Falinge res­i­dents whose homes are set to be de­mol­ished in a multi-mil­lion re­vamp of the two es­tates can stay in the area if they wish to do so.

It comes after staff from Rochdale Bor­ough­wide Housing spoke to more than 300 ten­ants on the es­tates about the con­tro­ver­sial pro­pos­als, which will see hun­dreds of flats knocked down to make way for new homes.

The plans, which come after nine months of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and could take 20 years to com­plete, will see the es­tates changed be­yond recog­ni­tion.

Four of the Seven Sis­ters tower blocks – Mitchell Hey, Dunkirk Rise, Ten­ter­croft and Town Mill Brow – would be de­mol­ished to make way for up to 120 new homes.

The three re­main­ing blocks – Mardyke, Hol­land Rise and Un­der­wood – would be mod­ernised un­der the pro­pos­als drawn up by renowned ar­chi­tects Levitt Bern­stein.

Six­teen of the 26 two­s­torey blocks on the nearby Lower Falinge es­tate, which con­tain 244 oc­cu­pied flats, would also be knocked down with up to 560 new houses built in their place.

But the plans have been met with op­po­si­tion from the Col­lege Bank res­i­dents, with 600 peo­ple sign­ing a pe­ti­tion against the move.

Clare Tostevin, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ties at RBH, said: “So far, we’ve spo­ken with around 300 ten­ants and res­i­dents in their homes.

“Many peo­ple have re­ally wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to speak with us one-to- one and faceto­face about the pro­posed in­vest­ments.

“From these con­ver­sa­tions, we’ve been able to gather more in­for­ma­tion on peo­ple’s po­ten­tial housing needs and pri­or­i­ties should they have to move.

“This means that we can now guar­an­tee that if peo­ple in Col­lege Bank and Lower Falinge need to be re­housed, they can choose to re­main in the town cen­tre and be close to fam­ily, friends, work, schools, and sup­port net­works.

“This com­mit­ment will form part of the Res­i­dents’ Deal, which we are seek­ing to de­velop in part­ner­ship with the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“This will set out a wide range of com­mit­ments and op­por­tu­ni­ties for all ten­ants and lease­hold­ers as well as how peo­ple can par­tic­i­pate in the re­gen­er­a­tion process and in the on­go­ing man­age­ment of the neigh­bour­hoods.

“Our next step is to con­tinue with the home vis­its.

“We haven’t been able to catch ev­ery­one at home to speak to them, so we will be con­tact­ing peo­ple by tele­phone or email to ar­range a con­ve­nient time to speak to them or to go through the in­for­ma­tion over the tele­phone.

“As part of this we are mak­ing clear that there would be ded­i­cated sup­port from RBH for any­one who needs to move which would help them through ev­ery step.

“Once we’ve gath­ered all of this feed­back, we’ll be us­ing it to help fur­ther shape the pro­pos­als.

“We will be keep­ing ten­ants and res­i­dents up­dated through­out this process, in­clud­ing through our new web­site, which we hope will make it eas­ier and clearer for lo­cal peo­ple to find out about the lat­est de­vel­op­ments.”

Col­lege Bank res­i­dent Robin Parker is one of the or­gan­is­ers of the Save Seven Sis­ters cam­paign, which is fight­ing against the de­mo­li­tion plans.

He said: “We have a pe­ti­tion signed by more than 600 peo­ple who say they do not want to leave, so I can­not see how they can guar­an­tee that all those peo­ple can stay.

“They ini­tially promised like-for-like re­place­ments so un­less that is still the case this is no guar­an­tee at all.”

A new web­site, which will pro­vide up­dates on the pro­pos­als and an on­line feed­back form, was also launched on Fri­day.

It can be found at col­lege­bankand­low­er­falinge. org.uk.

●●Rochdale Bor­ough­wide Housing di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ties Clare Tostevin and RBH di­rec­tor of re­sources, Nickie Hal­lard, are among 80 RBH em­ploy­ees who have car­ried out home vis­its in Col­lege Bank and Lower Falinge ahead of multi-mil­lion pound re­de­vel­op­ment plans

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