Save the Seven Sisters campaign
Date published: 12 June 2019
Photo: Reece Horton Photography
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The College Bank Support Group is trying to raise £5,000 to fight against the demolition of the College Bank Estate in Rochdale, known as The Seven Sisters.
The campaign group, which is fighting to save the iconic blocks of flats, is aiming to raise several thousands of pounds to help distribute regular updates to residents and rent premises for meetings.
A spokesperson for the group said: “This estate is home to almost 1,000 people, some of whom have lived here many years. We are raising funds to fight the decision of the landlord to demolish the largest four of the seven blocks, displacing and dispersing 480 households.
“Please watch the video and donate to our cause. These funds will enable us to put out regular updates to residents and rent premises for meetings, plus any contingencies that may arise.”
Clare Tostevin, RBH Director of Growth, said: “Our proposals for College Bank and Lower Falinge are about building a brighter future for residents who currently live in these neighbourhoods, and for future generations who choose to live there in the years to come. Our proposals are about people, not about bricks and mortar.
“Nonetheless, we understand that these proposals are very unsettling for many of those residents who are affected. We are doing everything that we can to provide support and information to those residents. Our door is always open for residents who want to talk to us.
“We recognise that with proposals of this scale, not everyone will agree with our approach.
“We welcome comments on our proposals – both positive and negative – and we will continue to take all comments on board as we work together with the local community to develop the plans. We are happy to speak to the campaign group about providing access to one of the community spaces at College Bank at no charge for their meetings, so that they do not need to raise money from residents for room hire.
“We’re very grateful to all the local residents who have worked together with us to develop the proposals, including over 400 attendees at our workshops and the 800 households who have spoken to us during home visits, as well as those who have taken part in our online consultation and come along to our weekly drop-in sessions.”
End of an era?
Earlier this year, tenants living in four the landmark Seven Sisters tower blocks – Mitchell Hey, Dunkirk Rise, Tentercroft and Town Mill Brow – were told their homes will likely be torn down within the next seven years.
The flats’ landlord, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), revealed controversial plans in 2016 to renovate College Bank and nearby Lower Falinge, with a search for a partner organisation launched to help it complete the 15-year transformation in May 2019.
RBH says repairing the 60s blocks would be too expensive, push up management fees and only serve as a short-term fix – but says it 'will continue to provide advice and assistance to all residents affected by the proposals, providing tailored support for those households who need it so that everyone can move into a good quality home that meets their needs'.
Setting out a vision for a mix of ‘new and improved homes’, extra footpaths, cycle lanes and leisure facilities, the redevelopment draws on RBH’s ‘masterplan’ – which also proposes knocking down the aforementioned tower blocks – which house a total of 480 flats – to make way for 120 new homes.
Under the proposals, College Bank would see refurbishment of the remaining blocks – Underwood, Mardyke and Holland Rise – including remodelling to reduce the number of bedsits, combining both ‘studios’ on each floor to a single two-bedroom property and improving parking arrangements.
Hundreds of residents have opposed the plans since their revelation, with former Mayor Robin Parker, a resident of Underwood, calling for the iconic flats to be ‘considered a heritage asset and listed accordingly’.
In October 2018, the Guardian reported under the headline “Rochdale charity’s demolition plans spark ‘social cleansing’ claims” 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'.
Speaking at the time, a spokesman for RBH said the mutual housing society was “appalled and angry about the serious accusation of 'social cleansing'.
The latest information on RBH’s plans is available at
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Additional reporting: Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
A visual poem, written and recorded by Robin Parker, film and edit by SB Cooper, for the Save the Seven Sisters campaign collaboration, College Bank Support Group and Greater Manchester Housing Action.
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