Understandably, there have been lots of questions about the proposed future investment at College Bank and Lower Falinge – we hope the below list addresses the most frequently asked.
If you would like to ask another question, please contact us.
What would happen if I have to move home?
We will let residents know at least a year in advance if they need to move and offer tailored support throughout this time, ensuring they have enough time to prepare and find a new home.
We know that each household would have different re-housing needs and that this could be a stressful time. The teams at RBH are very experienced in supporting residents through times of change, but we will also work with specialist partner agencies where appropriate to ensure that you receive the support that is right for you.
Where possible, this would include accommodating people’s preferred location for a new home and we will work hard to achieve this.
We will continue to keep all residents updated on timescales to make sure they know when their home could be affected by proposals long before any final decisions are made.
Could I still live in the Town Centre if I wanted to?
Yes, we can now guarantee that any residents who would like to stay in the town centre will be able to do so if they need to be rehoused as part of our proposals.
This commitment will form part of the Residents’ Deal, which we are seeking to develop in partnership with the local community.
As an RBH tenant, could I have the same number of bedrooms if I had to move?
Yes – you would have the highest priority for re-housing and the option would be ‘like for like’ in terms of number of bedrooms. If you want to have a different sized home to better meet your future needs, this is something we could talk through as part of the re-housing process.
As an RBH tenant, would I receive any compensation if I had to move home?
RBH tenants that need to move home would be entitled to compensation of £6,100, an amount set by the Government but paid by RBH. This figure is the total for all tenants living at an address and payable to those on the tenancy agreement.
In addition, we would pay residents a disturbance payment of £500 plus £250 towards the costs of removals.
If a RBH tenant has any rent, service charge or recharge arrears these would be deducted from the compensation.
As a homeowner, what would happen if I had to move?
We would offer to purchase the property and support you to either buy or rent a new home. This offer would be based on an independent valuation plus an extra 10%. RBH would also cover all reasonable expenses incurred in the sale plus the purchase of a new home, for example solicitors, mortgage or survey fees.
If you own a home, but rent it out, the same applies although the offer would be based on an independent valuation plus an extra 7.5%.
The Land Compensation Act ensures that you will be no worse off financially if your home is acquired to support regeneration.
As a private tenant living in a home in Lower Falinge or College Bank, what would happen if I need to move?
If your landlord is not RBH, your tenancy agreement will set out details about what your landlord must do if they end your tenancy. This may vary from agreement to agreement. If you need help with finding a new home then we can help you.
Do I have any options if I want to sell my home now?
If you’re hoping to sell soon, we may be able to buy your home from you before any decisions are made about the future of the neighbourhoods. Please contact us to discuss your circumstances and options.
If new homes are built, would they be the same size and type as the ones they replace?
We don’t have all the details of the new homes yet as it’s still early days. This will form part of the work over the coming months to ensure the neighbourhoods meet the needs of existing and future residents. As part of our home visits, we will be asking residents who are affected by the proposals what their future re-housing needs and preferences may be.
If new homes are built, would they be affordable?
We would aim to provide as many housing options as possible for residents, including homes for social and affordable rent and affordable homes for sale. We would also build homes to very high environmental standards, so they would have lower energy costs and be cheaper to run.
Will you use cladding to refurbish the remaining towers and will it be safe?
As further details emerge about the nature and cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower we will ensure that any lessons learnt are fully applied at College Bank including any modernisation work.
We have already met with Rochdale Council to discuss this and we will continue to work with the Council and other partners including the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Could RBH let homes to people who are working only?
Our aim is to provide a broad range of housing options to meet the needs of people of all ages and regardless of their circumstances, rather than restricting homes to one group.
Could there be dedicated blocks for older people at College Bank and Lower Falinge?
This is one of the options which we will explore further based on the feedback we have had from residents. A designated block for older people may still mean that residents would need to move home as work is carried out.
Why can’t RBH just invest in more cleaning, caretaking and security to improve these homes?
Expanding these services would significantly increase service charges, making them unaffordable for many residents. We need to get the balance right between service levels and costs to residents, so as we develop these proposals in more detail through future consultation events, we will be looking at whether different designs could help keep service charges affordable.
Are RBH still letting homes in College Bank and Lower Falinge?
Yes, and we will continue to do so until plans are confirmed for each home. We will let residents know if we decide to stop letting homes.
How will this process affect the current management of College Bank and Lower Falinge, including repairs?
We will continue to carry out work to individual flats such as day-to-day repairs for all homes in College Bank and Lower Falinge. We will also ensure that our Neighbourhood Housing, Caretaking and Community Partnership teams continue to provide their services in College Bank and Lower Falinge.
Work affecting whole blocks such as window and door replacement is currently on hold and will not be carried out to blocks which we have identified as potentially being affected by demolition. Depending on how the latest proposals progress, the proposed investment for this work may be used to support new improvements instead.
What do we mean by a "mixed and balanced community"?
By this we mean a neighbourhood where there is a mix of different housing options, flats, houses and bungalows to meet a variety of housing needs at different points in people’s lives. This also includes options in terms of tenure, so that if someone chooses to buy (or to part buy via shared ownership) they do not need to move away. And if someone needs to rent long term then they have this option. This housing mix helps a community thrive with different age groups and types of households; larger and smaller, in work and not in work, older and younger – with the kind of homes the wider community wants to live in. As part of the feedback on the consultation proposals some people are saying we should only let RBH homes to professionals and others are saying it is really important to have homes for those in the highest housing need. We think our proposals offer a way to support both of these, by better using land around the neighbourhoods to provide more homes and retaining and building social rented homes. We think Rochdale Town Centre is a great place where people will choose to stay and move into and providing the right quality and mix of homes will support this.
Could your proposals mean fewer homes in the town centre?
No – our plans could result in a net addition of around 500 new homes in Rochdale town centre, College Bank and Lower Falinge. This would be achieved by using sites in the immediate vicinity, many of which are currently vacant.
More details on these sites and proposed homes will form part of an outline planning application early next year, which we will be consulting on in the coming months.
Your proposals state that 120 new homes could replace some of the flats at College Bank – why can’t you build more than that?
We could build more replacement homes in both College Bank and Lower Falinge but many residents have told us that they would prefer houses with private outside space instead of a flat, so we need to allow for that. Exact figures are yet to be confirmed at this early stage, but we anticipate that this could result in 120 new homes at College Bank, replacing the four towers.
The remaining three blocks would be retained and modernised internally and externally.
Will tenants be rehoused in the town centre under the same tenancy conditions?
Any tenants who need to move home as part of the proposals will keep their existing RBH tenancy conditions. As with all of our homes, affordable rent would be calculated in accordance with government guidelines.
Please can you confirm that the residents living in the homes being demolished will be offered the new homes you will be building?
If the proposals go ahead, we have made a commitment that all tenants and residents who wish to remain living within the town centre will be able to do so. The new homes RBH are building at Lower Falinge currently and new homes in the future will form part of this commitment and we will be exploring through our Residents’ Deal how best we can prioritise the letting of these new homes to the existing community.
Please confirm that the new homes offered to existing residents will be of the same physical size (not just number of bedrooms).
Our promise is a like for like home in terms of the number of bedrooms. All of our new homes are built to the highest quality, including excellent energy efficiency and meeting nationally prescribed space standards. We have had some fantastic feedback from the tenants of our new homes which we have completed over the past 5 years, especially with regards to room and overall home sizes.
Where will these 500 new homes be?
As we have said these proposals are at a really high level so all numbers are indications at this stage. We have chosen to engage with the community at the earliest stage rather than wait until the detail is finalised as we believe this will help us to shape better final options.
The current proposals indicate that following redevelopment there would be nearly 1,000 homes within the Masterplan boundary outlined at the consultation. These include retained and new homes and a mix of flats and houses. However, the next stage is to work through more detail on the type of homes to develop in this area. If a higher proportion of flats are built the number of new homes will go up but if the community demand is for a higher proportion of houses then this number would go down. That is one of the things we want to talk to people about in the next phase of developing proposals.
If you walk around the Rochdale Town Centre area you will notice many areas of land that are currently empty or poorly used, which could provide excellent new homes in the future. Our research and market testing carried out as part of the Masterplanning has told us that these sites are highly unlikely to be developed without intervention to create a more positive market for investment in the town centre. The RBH proposals for the town centre, together with the wider council proposals, could create the conditions for this investment. These sites could provide over 1,000 homes, including at least 500 new homes, and possibly more depending on the type of homes built.
This is a real opportunity to bring much needed investment into Rochdale town centre to provide the required quality and mix of additional homes to help make Rochdale town centre a vibrant and thriving place to live. We have also promised that as part of the proposed redevelopment of College Bank and Lower Falinge all those RBH tenants who wish to remain in the town centre will be able to do so. RBH would support any tenant that needed to move as part of these proposals and they would be phased so that nobody would need to move until they had a like for like home to go to.
How many RBH tenants are affected by demolition?
The proposals currently include the potential demolition of 554 RBH occupied social rented flats.
Will tenants whose homes are to be demolished as part of the proposals be guaranteed a new build home as part of the regeneration?
We have made a promise that residents who wish to remain living in the town centre will be able to do so if the proposals go ahead. We are also exploring how we can prioritise the letting of retained homes and new build homes to existing residents, through a local lettings policy. This local lettings policy will sit alongside the Council’s Housing Allocations policy, which allocates homes on a needs basis.
RBH have stated that tenants and residents from the blocks to be demolished will be guaranteed a home in the Town Centre area. Please can you explain how it is possible for RBH to make this guarantee?
Through the home visits and our 1 to 1 conversations with tenants and residents at College Bank, we have been able to have a detailed discussion with over 500 households about their housing needs and preferences. This has provided us with robust information on the number of households who wish to remain living within the town centre and those that may wish to move to another RBH neighbourhood or somewhere entirely different. From this information we have now been able to guarantee that those wishing to remain living within the town centre will be able to do so, either within a retained home or a new build home.
Will the Council’s Housing Allocations Policy be applied if a tenant whose home is being demolished wants to live in one of the retained blocks?
Yes, the Council allocations policy alongside any local lettings policy will be applied the same whether a resident would like to move to a retained block or a new build home in the Town Centre or a home in a different area.
How have you tried to market the properties at College Bank? Can’t you do more?
We market all of our available RBH homes in a number of different ways, not only through our dedicated Home Choice website. Specifically for College Bank in recent years we looked at a number of ways to market flats to increase demand. This included discussion with education institutions and businesses about the needs of students and employees. We also prepared a fully furnished and decorated show flat and arranged viewings and lettings open days. We used paid advertising for these targeted via social media. We have also advertised homes at College Bank through Rightmove, which is the UK’s largest property search portal and promoted available homes through our Facebook page. The general feedback was that the environment around the flats and the access to them was a barrier to getting people to view and to letting these homes. These measures were tried for a significant period of time but did not increase demand.
Find out more about what we’re proposing at College Bank and Lower Falinge.
Supporting the wider regeneration of Rochdale with significant investment.
We still have a long way to go, but here’s what we plan to do next.