LS26 residents to be left homeless if demolition plans go ahead

By Elisha Atkinson

Plans to demolish houses on Sugar Hill Drive and Wordsworth Close in Oulton Leeds could leave its residents homeless.

In under two weeks Leeds City Council will be considering plans by housing developer Pemberstone that want to demolish and redevelop the estate.

The current properties are rented and will be replaced by larger houses that will be put on the market for sale.

Cindy Readman, resident of Wordsworth Drive said: “It all started in 2017, we all got a tiny flyer through the door inviting us to a consultation evening.

“A few of us went, but some people just threw it away because it came with a load of other leaflets.

“We then realised that what they were planning on doing was demolishing the whole estate and that we wouldn’t be offered one of the new houses because they were going to be big executive houses for people to buy.

“We have had heritage interested in it, because they are one of the last remaining big airy house communities.

“We can’t appeal it but what we can do is take it to a judicial review. We have started making investigations into how much a solicitor would be if we could manage to do it.

“We have heard of other cases around the country that have been successful, so that has given us an uplift.

“It’s been going on for over 18 months now and I’ve noticed a big difference. It’s had an effect on my health, both physical and mental. Especially the elderly people that live here, it’s really effected them a lot.

“It’s just draining. Because it’s been going on for so long. It’s like a roller coaster ride really.”

Residents are worried the plans will leave them homeless, as there could be a 71-week wait for housing, even as a priority.

Yorkshire Voice contacted Pemberstone and they got back to us with a statement:

The houses are approaching the end of their lifespan

Our surveys show that their condition is ‘typical of what we might expect for Airey houses of this age’. While the houses have served the community well and continue to be habitable for now, doing nothing is not an option and we need to plan for the future.

 Refurbishment is not the solution

Airey houses were designated defective within the meaning of the 1985 Housing Act. Refurbishment would be costly and disruptive and would require tenants to leave their homes in any event. Ultimately, it would still fail to deliver the full benefits of a new home. We believe that building new homes is the best solution.

 The proposal is a blueprint for the future

The planning application sets out a masterplan for the redevelopment and modernisation of Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close.

 It is an investment in local housing stock

The current proposal would represent a significant investment in renewal of local housing stock and in creating modern, comfortable and energy-efficient homes.

 Reassurance for tenants

In the event that planning permission is granted, regulated tenants would either remain in their current homes or at some point in the future, be offered new homes on the estate. Other existing tenants will be offered lease extensions for an additional two years.

 No wholesale demolition

We can reassure residents that Pemberstone has no intention of undertaking a wholesale demolition and redevelopment in one phase. The new-build process will be phased over a period of years.

 11 new housing association homes

In addition to the provision for regulated tenants, the proposal would create 11 new housing association homes. Leeds City Council would have the power to determine which housing association would own these. It could also agree the lettings policy, so could stipulate that existing tenants are given first refusal on these homes.

 Negotiations will continue with housing associations

If planning permission is granted, Pemberstone will continue negotiations with housing associations. We have already contacted 27 housing associations of which 10 have expressed an interest in taking over the 11 housing association homes and two might be prepared to take on the entire site. However, neither are willing to take on the existing properties.

For more information of the LS26 campaign visit: https://saveourhomesls26.org/

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