Bin chutes in Lower Falinge

Some people have commented about the new smaller rubbish chute covers in some of the blocks in Lower Falinge.

At our last inspection, our contractor told us that some of the bin chute covers needed replacing. We were not aware at the time that this would mean smaller covers. Our contractor has been clear to us that these new covers must be smaller in order to meet fire safety requirements. There is no option for us to fit larger covers.

We appreciate that this is a change for residents who have previously used the larger chute covers. Our caretaking team will ensure that any additional rubbish is cleared from outside the chutes, and we will make available some smaller bin bags for residents.

In the longer term rubbish disposal is one of the key things we are discussing with residents as part of improvements in the retained blocks at Lower Falinge.

Thursday drop-in sessions return to College Bank TRA

We’re pleased to announce that the College Bank TRA Office in Town Mill Brow is now available again to host our Thursday drop-in sessions for local residents. As from 28th February, the drop-in sessions will now be held as follows:

  • Every Tuesday, 10am until 12 noon, at Lower Falinge Housing Office, Newstead
  • Every Thursday, 10am until 12 noon, at College Bank TRA Office, Town Mill Brow

All local residents are welcome to pop along and speak to our team about any aspect of our proposals.

Speaking to residents in College Bank – 26th February 2019

Today (Tuesday, 26th February), the RBH team has been visiting homes in the College Bank area; providing information to residents face-to-face and explaining our intention to demolish the Mitchell Hey, Dunkirk Rise, Tentercroft, and Town Mill Brow tower blocks over the coming years.

We want to stress that demolition work is not about to start, but all affected residents will shortly be formally informed that their homes are likely to be demolished within the next seven years. We have dedicated support in place to help each resident with all aspects of their move to a new home and any additional support they may need.

We are absolutely committed to looking after our customers in what we know will be an unsettling time for them.

We have only taken this difficult decision to ensure the long-term success of the local area, and firmly believe that our proposals for the College Bank and Lower Falinge area will provide a place that people are proud to call home for years to come.

Alongside homes to suit people at all stages of their life, we also want to provide more green spaces for everyone to enjoy, and better connections into a revitalised Rochdale town centre.

Since 2016, RBH has been working on detailed proposals to improve the quality and mix of homes available in the College Bank and Lower Falinge area, listening to local residents through a series of consultation events and carrying out detailed planning.

As part of our evaluation, we have again reviewed the investment needed to maintain the College Bank tower blocks over the short, medium, and long term.

The blocks require multi-million pound upgrades both internally and externally, including new heating systems, new modern windows and balconies, improved and more secure entrances, safer and brighter communal landings and stairwells, improvements to internal pipework and drainage systems, and new weather proofed block exteriors. In addition, improvements are needed to the concourses, garages and block basements.

The cost of this essential investment would be at least £10m per block. For a similar investment of £10m, we know that we could build more than 100 brand new homes that would be higher in quality, provide a better mix of size and type, and would better meet the needs of local people now and into the future. We know that RBH would never be able to raise the £70m needed for investing in all seven blocks.  However, we have listened to those people in the community who have told us they do really value high rise living which is why we are looking at ways to invest £30m in the three blocks we are proposing to retain.

Since initial discussions with the local community began, we have been told by residents that they want more certainty on what is happening and when. We have always committed to provide at least one year’s notice to any RBH tenant who needs to move home – today’s activity is intended to provide more certainty for everyone who will be affected at College Bank.

The next key step will be to issue a legal notice (called an Initial Demolition Notice) to all homes we expect to be affected by demolition in the next seven years. We plan to issue the Initial Demolition Notices in College Bank over the coming weeks, so we wanted to provide plenty of notice that this will be happening.

We know we won’t have been able to catch everyone at home today, so we have posted a calling card providing information on how residents can get in touch with us, including face to face, by email and over the telephone.

RBH pledge to be an early adopter for “Together with Tenants”

NHF Together with TenantsRBH is proud to support Together with Tenants – a project organised by the National Housing Federation to strengthen the relationship between housing associations and their tenants and residents.

The Federation has been working with tenants, residents, tenant representative groups, our members and others to understand what practical change is needed to address this. To drive action, they’ve created a four-point plan for delivering change across the sector.

This plan is currently out for consultation, and we’ve agreed to be one of 44 housing associations across the country who will be early adopters of the plan, once feedback from the consultation has been received.

More information on the plan and how to respond to the consultation is available online at: https://www.housing.org.uk/topics/together-with-tenants/.

We’d love to hear any feedback on the plan and we hope that residents will respond to the consultation with their views!

Listening to residents in College Bank and Lower Falinge

Consultation with our local communities is really important to us. Our starting point for looking at the best options for people and place in Rochdale town centre was to speak with the local community. We have sought to be open and honest with residents at every stage. However, we are always keen to learn and do better, so welcome any feedback on additional ways to consult with and support the community.

We know that our huge investment plans mean big change, and we’re here to listen and to provide any advice or support that residents need.  We are very grateful to everyone who has contributed to this conversation and these voices have helped to shape our plans. By engaging with residents early on and continuing to share information, we’ve been able to adapt our plans to reflect these views.

It is really important that all voices are heard and that everyone affected has the right to participate in shaping the plans and we will not tolerate aggression or intimidation or trying to shut down voices that represent a range of views, whether at workshops or online.

What we’ve done

  • By June 2017 we had over 300 contacts with residents to shape the proposals.
  • By September 2017 we had visited over 1,000 homes and had face to face conversations with people in over 600 households.
  • Held twice weekly drop in sessions from May 2017.
  • Held 17 workshop sessions.
  • Developed a Residents’ Deal with the community.
  • Held Facebook chats and set up a dedicated website and email contact.

Additional support available

 We know that this process can be worrying, so we’ve put in place additional support for those residents who need it.

  • We’ve undertaken additional home visits when requested.
  • We have had a dedicated point of support for tenants since early 2018.
  • Additional intensive work and support for those households affected by the next immediate phases of development.

What we’ve promised

  • Guaranteed a minimum of one year’s notice for those who need to move.
  • Support for an early move for those residents who have a need to do so.
  • All affected residents will have a choice to stay within the town centre.

Those residents in earlier phases of redevelopment who have chosen to move to a different area have all been able to move to their preferred location – this may have been closer to work or family.

Contacting us

  • We have a dedicated e-mail address (towncentre.regen@rbh.org.uk)
  • We have a dedicated website (www.collegebankandlowerfalinge.org.uk) together with dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Residents can also call us on Freephone 0800 027 7769.

We know that there will always be a range of views about proposals of this scale. We will continue to take on board all views, whether positive or critical. Our proposals are about people, not buildings. We think that these plans represent an opportunity to build homes fit for the future – especially for those residents who already live in Lower Falinge and College Bank. We do know, however, that these are people’s homes, and that any plans for demolition are difficult and unsettling for the residents who live in those homes. That’s why we’ve shared information as early as possible, it is why we have always shared information directly with local people first, and why we’ve put in place additional support for those who need it.

We are sad and disappointed that we needed to cut our February consultation workshop short, due to aggressive and abusive behaviour from one individual towards a fellow resident. We welcome all residents to our workshops, regardless of their views on our proposals, but we will not tolerate such behaviour. We’re looking forward to rearranging the workshop so that all residents have the opportunity to attend.

A statement regarding yesterday’s workshop

Yesterday we held our latest consultation event for residents in Rochdale town centre. This was an opportunity to listen to those who live locally about the improvements and investment we would like to make to the homes we will retain in Lower Falinge.

Unfortunately an attendee at the event became aggressive and abusive towards another resident who was present. We would like to thank RBH colleagues and residents at the workshop who dealt with the situation calmly and professionally, ensuring that the incident did not escalate further.

We have a zero tolerance approach to all aggressive or abusive behaviour. We will ensure that our consultation events are places where all residents and employees feel welcome and safe to attend.

Following the incident, we decided to end the workshop early, and we will rearrange it for a future date to ensure that residents still have the opportunity to contribute. The workshop display boards are also available to download – please e-mail us on towncentre.regen@rbh.org.uk with any comments, views, or suggestions.