Rochdale Boroughwide Housing "appalled and angry" at claims of “social cleansing”

Date published: 16 October 2017

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) has responded to claims that their view of regenerating the College Bank area “smacks of social cleansing" - a spokesperson said they are "appalled and angry" at the "serious accusation".

The Guardian reported on Sunday 15 October that Councillor Neil Emmott, Rochdale Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing, said the plans were “crazy” and “risked worsening Greater Manchester’s homelessness problem".

He told the newspaper he was “appalled” after a presentation on the proposals by the housing provider, and “it focussed on how many people are on benefits and how many people are poor round that area. It really sickened me to see them coming out with this sort of stuff.”

The controversial proposals for College Bank would see four blocks demolished and replaced with new development including new homes of different types and sizes. The remaining three blocks would stay and be modernised internally and externally. Open and shared spaces would also be enhanced and work completed to make it easier to get to the town centre.

Nearby Lower Falinge is also set to receive a similar regeneration.

However, RBH say there “is absolutely no truth” in the claims.

A spokesman for RBH said: “We are appalled and angry about the serious accusation of 'social cleansing' which was carried in the Guardian (Rochdale charity’s demolition plans spark ‘social cleansing’ claims - 15  October 2017). There is absolutely no truth in the claims made by Councillor Neil Emmott and we are very disappointed that, for whatever reason, he has chosen to make them, and in doing so to completely misrepresent our proposals and what they aim to achieve.

“Our proposals are completely contrary to 'social cleansing'. We have guaranteed that all residents who want to stay in the town centre will be able to do so if plans to redevelop College Bank and Lower Falinge go ahead. Our plans would provide a net increase in the total number of homes in the area.

“Our aim is to improve the quality and mix of the homes in the area, so that we can both better meet the needs of current residents, and attract new residents to the area. We are also developing plans to ensure that residents in College Bank and Lower Falinge have better access to employment opportunities and training.

“Our proposals could result in a net addition of around 500 new homes in Rochdale town centre, in College Bank, Lower Falinge and on sites in the immediate vicinity, many of which currently lie vacant.

“We are very proud of the strong community spirit that exists in College Bank and Lower Falinge, with high levels of community volunteering, and our aim is to keep as much of the existing community together as possible while delivering the quality and type of homes that meet the needs of existing residents and attract new residents.

“RBH is a mutual housing society, co-owned by our tenant and employee members. We are a non-profit registered community benefit society and a charitable organisation. Any income is reinvested into the communities we serve.”

The housing provider guaranteed town centres homes for residents on both College Bank and the Lower Falinge estates, should the blocks be demolished.

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