RBH pledge to flats residents
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