College Bank residents offered £7,000 by RBH to move out
Date published: 19 January 2022
Photo: Reece Horton Photography
The Seven Sisters flats at College Bank
Residents of five of the Seven Sisters at College Bank are being offered £7,000 by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing to move out as regeneration plans continue apace.
Residents of Tentercroft, Dunkirk Rise, Underwood, Holland Rise and Mardyke who wish to move permanently are being offered a payment of £7,100 by RBH, plus an additional £500 disturbance payment and £250 towards moving costs.
A letter to residents says this ‘homeloss payment’ can be used for either another RBH-owned home, or if residents wish to purchase their own homes.
Underwood has been earmarked as the first block of flats for regeneration, followed by Mardyke and Holland Rise. Residents from Underwood who wish to stay in the flats will be temporarily rehoused in Mardyke and Holland Rise whilst the £12m refurbishment is carried out.
RBH estimates work on Underwood will begin in 2023, and be completed in early 2025 and will have “individual conversations with all residents in Underwood around what this ‘decant’ move will mean for each household and what support they might need.”
It adds that all residents in College Bank will be invited to help shape the details of the refurbishment proposals.
The housing landlord says it “cannot offer” the priority rehousing to those in the three remaining blocks as given to those in the four earmarked for demolition – Mitchell Hey, Town Mill Brow, Dunkirk Rise and Tentercroft. It is because of this that it is offering the homeloss payment “to ensure that there are enough homes across Underwood, Mardyke and Holland Rise to accommodate all those who will need to move temporarily and wish to stay within College Bank as part of the refurbishment plans.”
Whilst timescales remain the same for Tentercroft (with priority housing from January 2023) and Dunkirk Rise (with priority rehousing from June 2024), residents of these blocks who wish to move before then with the homeloss payment can do so.
Clare Tostevin, RBH Director of Growth, said: “The compensation payments to tenants who need to move home are part of a wider support package for residents. This support is available for any resident who needs it and is tailored to their own needs.”
The letter in full reads:
We are writing to all residents in College Bank to update on the next steps in RBH proposals including important updates on supporting rehousing and streps towards refurbishment of the first block (Underwood).
We can confirm that our next three year budget plan includes over £12 million for us to start on the refurbishment of Underwood. We will be inviting all residents in College Bank to help us shape the details of the refurbishment proposals. We hope to be able to confirm a contractor for these works by the end of 2022 with works starting in 2023. We anticipate that the refurbishment of Underwood will be completed in early 2025 due to the scale of work required.
As we told you last year the refurbishment will be extensive and will require all residents to move out while this work takes place. We will have individual conversations with all residents in Underwood around what this ‘decant’ move will mean for each household and what support they might need.
We are aiming for these temporary moves to be to homes within Mardyke and Holland Rise which is why we have been holding homes empty across these blocks.
However, we know from conversations with residents that not all tenants wish to stay in College Bank long term (or after refurbishment). This is why we are now in a position to offer a homeloss payment to tenants in any of the three blocks for retention in the masterplan (Underwood, Mardyke and Holland Rise) who wish to move home permanently now.
While we cannot offer the priority rehousing which is given to those in the blocks affected by demolition we will now pay homeloss to those who are able to move (whether to another RBH home or their own solution such as buying a home elsewhere).
This will also help to ensure that there are enough homes across Underwood, Mardyke and Holland Rise to accommodate all those who will need to move temporarily and wish to stay within College Bank as part of the refurbishment plans.
We are continuing with our rehousing phases as set out in 2021. Only a few residents now remain in Mitchell Hey and we are continuing to support these residents with their rehousing options. The next phase of rehousing at Town Mill Brow is progressing with 58% of homes in this block now empty.
The timescales remain the same for Tentercroft (with priority housing from January 2023) then Dunkirk Rise (with priority rehousing from June 2024).
However, some residents in Tentercroft and Dunkirk Rise have told us they are ready to move sooner than the dates above. If there are additional rehousing needs then we may be able to help with both priority rehousing and homeloss payments sooner than these dates.
However, if people are ready to move, for example to buy a home or move into another home with a partner then we are now able to make the homeloss payment to facilitate this move. This payment is £7,100 plus an additional £500 disturbance payment and £250 towards moving costs.
This means that those who have their own rehousing solution and want to move without priority rehousing and support form RBH are now able to do so without waiting for the rehousing phase for their block.
As set out in relation to refurbishment above this also applies to tenants in Mardyke, Holland Rise and Underwood as well as those in Tentercroft and Dunkirk Rise.
We understand that residents have received leaflets from councillors in the adjacent Spotland and Falinge ward and may also have seen publicity around a recent council motion asking RBH to rethink the plans for College Bank.
We know that while some residents are fundamentally opposed to the RBH plans for College Bank that there are many residents who support them. We have already supported many successful moves of residents who tell us they are happy in their new homes within the local area.
RBH has been clear with the council since 2017 that we are open to options and proposals that would deliver the investment needed for College Bank homes – to keep them safe and decent for current residents and future generations. On this basis we have said that if the council and residents wished the council could acquire the blocks from RHB for a nominal amount.
However, the only work we have seen from the council to date is independent confirmation of the level of the refurbishment costs. It is unfair to suggest to residents that the council has an alternative without setting out what this might look like.
We have consistently said we are happy to speak to the Save Seven Sisters/College Bank Support group but this offer has never been accepted. The offer remains open and the RBH team will continue to have conversations with residents both as individuals and via tenant engagement and elected tenant representatives.
Please get in touch with any feedback as we progress these next steps in the future of College Bank. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0800 027 7769 (option 7) with any queries about the next steps overall or for next steps in terms of your own home or rehousing.
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