Residents fight regeneration plans

16 November 2010, 05:00

Residents in two housing estates in Northampton say the Council may have agreed to regenerate parts of the town, but THEY haven't.

Northampton Borough Council's cabinet have agreed to submit a bid to the government by the of the month - for £100m to rebuild parts of Eastfield and Thorplands.

195 homes across both estates could be flattened - around 70 of them are privately owned. The plans would see new homes being built and many being rennovated.

Speaking to heart, Eastfield resident Sheron Watson has lived there for more than 30 years and told us she's livid. "We own our home, and house prices have already fallen due to the recession, and now they're falling more because of the cloud hanging over us.

I don't want to go, you can't even begin to compensate for that. It would be a terrible upheaval if I had to move.  I've never planned to move. I live on the edge of the park, I look out every morning onto the park - why would I want to move.

I think it's deplorable that the council could take people's homes and demolish them for money, which is what it boils down to."

Sheron told us her much of her family would be affected. "My daughter lives down the road - she is a council tenant, so she could be affected. I have one son over in Thorplands, and he'll be affected. Then my youngest son would have to move school too."

We asked Sheron if she'd want to move back onto a new and improved estate - Sheron told us "To be honest I wouldn't
want to live back on the estate, as it doesn't look like an estate I'd want to live in".

But what about the issue of a lack of care or maintenance over the years which makes the appearance of the area less than it could be "I accept work needs to be done. The flats and maisonettes need work - that's undisputable. The actual area - the external appearance has been neglected over the years by the council. Some of the housing stock owned by the council certainly need work, but no house on this estate could you call dilapidated."

Sheron, and other residents have clubbed together for a petition containing over 500 signatures claims the mum of 3. Sheron told us they plan to take the petition to Housing Minister Grant Shapps to stop the proposal - say the "community aren't buying in to the plans, something required by the Homes and Communities Agency - required by the HCA before regeneration money can be freed up"

Northampton Borough Council director of housing Lesley Wearing told heart "We know how anxious people are to hear if the PFI proposals are likely to affect them.  The truth is we still don’t know if what is being proposed is actually what will happen, and we won’t know for at least another year.  This uncertainty is unfortunately part of the PFI process, which is both long and complex.
"We have, however, undertaken to be as open as we possibly can with residents, even though we understand how hard it is for them to deal with the uncertainty.  At this stage we have to develop our ideas for what could be achieved if we are to be in the running for the government funding, which is a real opportunity for us to make an incredible difference to these two estates.  But it is important to stress that the proposals are still just ideas and we welcome comments from local people on what they think about the proposals so far.
"Our job now is to support residents through this part of the process and make sure that we don’t miss the government’s November deadline.”