RBH submits planning application for 55 new homes in Lower Falinge

The next stage of RBH’s plans to deliver a better quality and mix of homes in Rochdale town centre has taken a step forward, with a new planning application to deliver 55 new homes at the heart of Lower Falinge.

The new homes will replace five existing 1960s blocks of flats, which are proposed for demolition as part of the development. The blocks will be replaced with 55 brand new homes, comprising 33 flats and 22 houses, together with a new park and play space which will provide a new “green heart” at the centre of Lower Falinge. This new green area will provide improved public open space for both new and existing residents, and better connections and routes through the neighbourhood.

The detailed planning application shows the full design of the area, including the type of new homes, the appearance of the homes, the construction materials, the overall site layout and the scale of new homes. It will also show the proposed access and parking arrangements, and the landscaping proposals, including the new open public open space and play facilities.

In keeping with RBH’s promise to keep the community informed every step of the way, the latest version of the proposals were shown at a community workshop at Lower Falinge Community Base on Thursday 2nd August. These built on the ideas from the community fed back after an earlier workshop in April.  The workshop ensured that local people were able to see the proposals before they were submitted as a planning application.

Display boards from the community workshop are available to download on this website.

The RBH team will continue to provide advice and assistance to those residents affected by the demolition proposals. RBH have promised that all RBH tenants affected by the demolition will be guaranteed a like-for-like home within the town centre area. Tenants will also receive compensation and priority for rehousing.

Clare Tostevin, RBH Director of Growth, said:

“Our proposals will deliver 55 new homes of the highest quality at the heart of Lower Falinge. Residents have told us that they would like to see more family homes with gardens in Rochdale town centre, and our proposals will help us to improve the quality and mix of homes in the area.”

Community Workshop – Thursday 2nd August

Our next community workshop will be held on Thursday, 2nd August, from 3pm to 7pm at the Lower Falinge Community Base, 238 Newstead, Lower Falinge.

At our last community workshop in April, we presented proposals for the next phase of new homes at Lower Falinge, as part of RBH’s proposals for the College Bank and Lower Falinge neighbourhoods.

We received lots of ideas and thoughts on different parts of the proposals and we have used that to finalise the detail ready to submit a planning application.

This workshop will be an opportunity for you to have a look at the latest plans and to see what we will be submitting for the planning application.

Don’t worry if you can’t make the workshop, information will also be uploaded to this website and to our Facebook page.

Lower Falinge Demolition Notices update – 23rd July 2018

In summer 2017, RBH set out proposals for the College Bank and Lower Falinge neighbourhoods which identified some homes which would be affected by demolition. We promised the community that any RBH tenant who needed to move would have at least a year’s notice of this.

In early April 2018, we explained that one of the next steps in taking forward these proposals would be to issue a legal notice called an Initial Demolition Notice to homes expected to be affected by demolition in the next seven years. As we explained in April, this does not mean that demolition is about to start. It lets residents know, formally, that their home could be demolished within the next seven years as part of the proposals.

On Thursday 5th April, we knocked on the doors of all affected residents to let them know about this face-to-face, provide a copy of our information sheet about the notices and what they mean, answer questions and provide support before any formal legal notice is issued.

We can now confirm that today (Monday 23rd July) we have issued Initial Demolition Notices to residents in 16 blocks in Lower Falinge. Along with the formal notice, we have included an explanatory covering letter, and an information sheet with further explanation, together with details of how to get in touch with RBH for support or advice.

We will continue to support residents affected by the proposals, including providing support for rehousing, and we continue to work on the detail of the proposals. We will be submitting a planning application for the next phase of development at Lower Falinge in the near future.

Moving forward with the residents’ deal: the independent recommendations

In February, we introduced our independent advisor Helen Nicol, who we asked to work with residents in College Bank and Lower Falinge to develop our Residents’ Deal.

The Residents’ Deal is important as it sets out what RBH will promise to do for everyone in the local community before, during, and after, any improvements in the neighbourhood, as well as what residents promise to do.

Between February and May 2018, Helen held conversations at meetings and community events, and facilitated a resident working group to help gather the views of the wider community.

Helen has now completed her independent report, and has made a number of recommendations following the feedback she has received from residents. We’re publishing the report and recommendations, and we’re excited to work with residents to move forward with these recommendations.

Click here to download the report and recommendations.

If you are interested in working with us to make progress with these recommendations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch either with Helen (helen.nicol@bluechula.co.uk or 07980 395 866) or with our town centre team.

Opinion: how housing associations can help transform town centres

This week, RBH Chief Executive Gareth Swarbrick wrote for Inside Housing about how housing associations can help to transform town centres. The text of his article is republished below.

Town centres are changing across the UK, but this is creating opportunities for new residential markets and housing associations have a key role to play.

Each week we hear new stories reflecting huge shifts in the retail sector with some of our largest and most well-known retail chains struggling or closing. However, town centres also offer a range of high-quality assets, transport networks, heritage and leisure facilities. This infrastructure can pave the way for investment in high-quality housing and facilities that can better meet the needs of local communities and help to breathe new life into town centres.

Housing associations are well placed to support investment in town centres and drive a joined-up approach. By working with partners, we can support local people and create great places, ensuring genuinely affordable homes are part of the mix, that wider investment can be triggered, and quality benchmarks are set for early development schemes.

Rochdale town centre has all the ingredients to help deliver major change using this approach. Birthplace of co-operation with amazing built heritage, it was hit hard by industrial and economic restructuring in recent decades, but has the potential for a much brighter future.

That’s why RBH is working in partnership with our local residents, the council, health, transport and heritage partners to give purpose back to the town centre, inject new vibrancy and protect its history. At the same time, we’re exploring ways in which we can improve people’s lives through good work and training opportunities.

Offering better quality homes to existing town centre residents and attracting new people to Rochdale town centre living is a vital part of this. The current residential offer in Rochdale town centre is very limited; a 1960s rented flat or a small 1900s rented terrace. Anyone looking for a garden or a larger family house or a route into home ownership will struggle here at the moment.

To help improve this, we’ve committed £25 million for redevelopment, investment in existing homes and building new homes to help drive up quality and choice. This investment will also improve street layouts and walking and cycling connectivity as well as the public realm to help enhance overall quality of life in the town centre.

This is the first step towards creating a new market that works for the whole community with new housing for people of all ages, including specialist homes for older people. Critically, this is a catalyst for private sector investment in Rochdale town centre which could unlock capacity for over 2,000 new homes.

This approach isn’t without its challenges. One of these is public funding and how it is allocated. Currently the focus is on supporting existing high-pressure residential markets where demand is high rather than opportunities for changing places. Metrics that project forward, based on previous market activity, will never reflect the fantastic potential that Rochdale and similar towns offer.

However, the prize for unlocking potential in town centres like Rochdale is massive and housing associations could hold a key. By joining forces with local partners with a shared vision, there is the opportunity to create new markets that better meet the needs of local communities and ensure town centres have a vibrant future as well as their proud history.