Today (Tuesday 26th March), the RBH team has visited homes in the College Bank area that we expect to be affected by demolition. These face-to-face conversations have provided further information and formal notification of our plans to residents. We previously visited every home in these four blocks in February 2019 to let them know that we would soon be taking this step.
We want to stress again that demolition work is not about to start, but this means that residents in the Mitchell Hey, Dunkirk Rise, Tentercroft, and Town Mill Brow tower blocks have now been formally notified that their homes are likely to be demolished within the next seven years. This formal notification is in the form of a legal notice called an Initial Demolition Notice.
We know that this will be an unsettling time for our customers, and we are absolutely committed to looking after them, with dedicated support in place to help each and every resident with all aspects of their move to a new home and any additional support that they may need.
We want to reiterate that we have only taken this very 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 – the conversations we have had with residents today and last month will provide more certainty for everyone who will be affected at College Bank. We have also made a firm promise that any resident who wishes to stay in the Rochdale town centre area will be able to do so.
We know we won’t have been able to catch everyone at home today. Residents can get in touch with us by a number of methods, including face to face, by email and over the telephone.