Frequently Asked Questions

If you would like to ask another question, please contact us. This FAQ was last updated on 09/06/2020.

What adjustments are you making to your plans during the coronavirus outbreak?

This answer was updated on 25th March 2020.

Our top priority is the health and safety of residents. Please continue to follow the latest advice from the NHS and Public Health England.

We have now suspended all new lettings other than in exceptional circumstances.

More information on RBH’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is available at www.rbh.org.uk/coronavirus

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 will 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 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.

We have been meeting this guarantee during the rehousing for residents in Lower Falinge and College Bank and we will continue to do so for future phases of rehousing.

What do you mean by "town centre area"?

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 a ‘like for like’ home based on number of bedrooms and property type. If you would like or need a different sized home to better meet your needs, this is something we could talk through as part of the re-housing process.

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.

Are RBH still letting homes in College Bank and Lower Falinge?

We stopped letting those homes in Lower Falinge that were issued with an Initial Demolition Notice in July 2018, when we issued the notices. We are continuing to let homes in the retained blocks in Lower Falinge.

We have also stopped letting homes in all the blocks in College Bank whilst we work through the detail for each block. At the point anything changes in relation to this, we will let residents know.

Will tenants who have to move, be rehoused in the town centre under the same tenancy conditions?

Any tenants who need to move home as part of the proposals, whether within the town centre or to another neighbourhood, will keep their existing RBH tenancy conditions in their new RBH home. As with all RBH and housing association homes, rent would be calculated in accordance with government guidelines.

Will the residents living in the homes being demolished, be offered the new homes you will be building?

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.

For some tenants and residents who wish to live in the town centre, one of the existing retained homes may be the preferred option to meet their needs.

The new homes RBH will be building at Lower Falinge form part of this commitment, and we have committed to exploring through our Residents’ Deal how best we can prioritise the letting of current and future 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 and property type. 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. We will continue to gather tenant feedback about any new homes to make sure we carry on building homes that people are happy with.

Will tenants whose homes are to be demolished as part of the proposals, be allocated 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.

For some tenants a retained home will be their preferred option and as RBH builds more new homes these will be an additional option.

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 visits to every home and our one to one conversations with tenants and residents in both neighbourhoods, we were able to have a detailed discussion with over 600 households about their housing needs and preferences. This in turn provided us with robust information on the number of households who wish to remain living within the town centre and those that wish to move to another RBH neighbourhood or somewhere entirely different. From this information we were 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.

All those who have been supported to move from Lower Falinge and College Bank have been able to move to a home in the town centre area if that was their preference. Our turnover of homes within the town centre area means that we have a regular supply of existing homes where previous tenants have moved as well as a number that are on short term leases for temporary use. The specific homes available varies each week and identifying potentially suitable homes from these is part of our tailored support for those households who need to move in each phase. As RBH builds more new homes these will be an additional option in the town centre.

You can find more information about where residents have asked be rehoused in our Spring 2020 newsletter. Click here to download.

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.

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 £6,400 (from 1st October 2019), an amount set by the Government for tenants of social rented homes and is 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.

I am entitled to a compensation payment and am claiming an out-of-work benefit, do I need to inform anyone ?

A condition of receiving an out of work or means tested benefit, is that all change of circumstances must be reported to the relevant Department. The link below explains how to get in touch with the DWP regarding the payment you received.

https://www.gov.uk/report-benefits-change-circumstances

Further advice on how this may affect your benefit can be found here.

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/how-do-savings-and-lump-sum-pay-outs-affect-benefits

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.

For more information about selling your property back to RBH, please contact us to discuss the options and how we can help you find a new home in more detail.

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?

Yes – If you’re hoping to sell soon, 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 full details of all the new homes yet as we are taking a phased approach and working through the detail one phase at a time.

The next phase of new development will be 55 homes in Lower Falinge. These are a mix of houses and apartments for affordable rent.

We will continue to work to ensure the neighbourhoods meet the needs of existing and future residents over the long term. We will continue to ask residents who are affected by the proposals what their future re-housing needs and preferences may be. We will use this to develop the proposals in each phase.

If new homes are built, would they be affordable?

Our aim is 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.

Find out more about fire safety in College Bank high rise homes on our dedicated page.

Could your proposals mean fewer homes in the town centre?

No – we are working through the detail of our plans but we are confident that they will result in more homes in the Rochdale town centre area.

For example the Lower Falinge and College Bank masterplan area includes sites which are currently vacant where new homes would be built, and the plans would support investment in new homes across the whole town centre area.

Where will these new homes be in the town centre?

As we have said, these proposals are still at a really high level so all numbers are indications at this stage.  The proposals as set out in 2017 show 680 new homes within the Lower Falinge and College Bank areas as well as 437 retained homes. We have engaged with the community at the earliest stage of each phase rather than wait until the detail is finalised as we believe this will help us to shape better final options; we will continue to do this because your views are important in developing the proposals.

We will continue to work through in more detail on the type of homes to develop in the masterplan 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 each phase of developing the 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, 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 area will be able to do so. RBH has offered tailored support to those tenants who have needed to move as part of these proposals and our promise is that we will continue to do this for each household that needs to move.  The proposals are phased so that nobody would need to move until they had a suitable home to go to.

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 will continue to work up proposals for the replacement homes for College Bank which are not yet at the level of detail set out for Lower Falinge.

We could build more than 120 replacement homes in College Bank but many residents have told us that they would prefer larger houses that have private outside space. The current number is based on providing houses to meet this need.

If as the proposals develop in more detail some new apartments were included in the College Bank area then we could build significantly more than 120 homes here.

Will newly built RBH homes have different tenancy conditions?

No – any homes that are built by RBH as a part of the town centre proposals will be allocated under the same tenancy conditions as our existing homes. As with all of our homes, affordable rent would be calculated in accordance with government guidelines

Are the garages next to Sheriff Street still included in the proposed redevelopment plans?

These garages are included in zones four and five of the plans. We don’t know the exact timings for these zones yet, and we will need to work up the design for homes in this area with the local community.  We need to prioritise much needed new homes, but as part of the design we will be looking at good parking options for the new and existing homes.

What plans do you have for refurbishing the retained homes at Lower Falinge?

We are working up detailed plans for future investment in the retained homes at Lower Falinge and we have spoken to residents about what changes they would like to see. Priorities that came from those discussions were access to private amenity space where possible, improved refuse and recycling and for some blocks stairwell improvements.

When will the next phase of new build development start in Lower Falinge?

We are now delighted to announce that we are working in partnership with Engie Regeneration Ltd to take forward the next phase of new development in Lower Falinge from March 2020.

In these uncertain times their focus is on the delivery of the next phase of 55 new homes in Lower Falinge. This has also enabled us to secure a £2.53m grant from Homes England – a much needed additional investment for our town centre plans.

These new homes will all be for affordable rent and this is capped at local housing allowance as a benchmark to ensure they remain affordable for all.

Who is your partner for delivering these homes?

We are working with Engie Regeneration Ltd to deliver 55 new homes in Lower Falinge from March 2020.  In these uncertain times it is a big achievement to be starting on site with this scheme and this will be the focus of our work with Engie.  We recognise that delivering progress where we can is really important to the community and this is why we are working with Engie to deliver these much needed new homes in the next phase of development in Lower Falinge.

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 proposals progress, the proposed investment for this work may be used to support new improvements instead.

How will the future investment at College Bank and Lower Falinge be funded?

Through our workshops and the ongoing development of the residents’ deal, we are setting out our vision for the future of Rochdale town centre in terms of design, green spaces, and quality of new and refurbished homes.

This is a long-term 20 year project which will then be delivered and funded in phases. RBH has committed significant funding as part of our 30 year business plan, and we are actively seeking both private and public investment to help with different parts of the proposals. We have always been clear that these early stages of the 20 year proposals are about setting the right vision, rather than “chasing” specific pots of funding; experience tells us that over the 20 year lifespan the available external funding will change.

Additional early public investment could play a really important role in speeding up the delivery of different phases of the regeneration, and RBH will continue to seek funding and to deliver when we can to meet the overall vision.

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 whilst 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.

How many RBH tenants are affected by demolition?

The proposals include the potential demolition of 4 blocks at College Bank and 11 blocks at Lower Falinge, which include 395 currently occupied RBH social rented flats.

As people are supported to move, the number of occupied flats will continue to reduce.

How have you consulted on the regeneration proposals?

Since the beginning of our conversations and consultations with the community about the regeneration proposals for the town centre, we have spoken with hundreds of people about the long term future of both the Lower Falinge and College Bank neighbourhoods. These conversations started with community workshops in 2016 and continue to this day, as our plans progress for each phase. By June 2017, when the masterplan proposal was set out, over 500 people had contributed, either face to face or digitally.  We followed this up with a face to face visit to every household in College Bank and Lower Falinge speaking to over 600 households at this time.

Since 2017, we have continued with detailed engagement as each element has been progressed; including the current phase of new homes in Lower Falinge, investment in the retained homes in Lower Falinge and the wider Residents Deal, and we have had 198 attendees at our workshops in this time and also over 100 responses to a survey we carried out.

We have also held weekly drop in sessions in both College Bank and Lower Falinge since 2017 and continue to provide information, and answer questions, through our website and social media channels.

We will continue our approach of using different methods of consultation and engagement to work with the community as proposals are developed in more detail. If you have any suggestions about different methods we can use, do visit our contact page to let us know!

What do you mean by "RBH masterplan area" and "town centre area"?

The RBH masterplan area is the area in College Bank and Lower Falinge where we’ve been undertaking intensive work with the community about the future quality and mix of homes.

However we know that in order to deliver the best possible outcomes for the community, we need to work with the Council and other partners to improve the wider town centre area.

We know that there is also capacity to deliver many additional homes in this area. We’ve produced a map to show what we mean by the town centre area.

How often are the FAQs updated?

We keep the FAQs under continuous review. We update if we are asked new questions or need to clarify information based on our ongoing conversations with the community. We aim to make sure the information is as clear and helpful as possible.

How have you listened to the views of young people in Lower Falinge and College Bank?

At the very start of the consultation we commissioned Groundwork Trust to provide an insight in to what young people (aged 16-24) living in College Bank and Lower Falinge think about the neighbourhoods, what they care about, what skills and knowledge they have and how they would like to contribute to shape future regeneration proposals. RBH were keen to understand some of the issues and challenges that young people face in the neighbourhood, and what they would like to see happen in their community over the next five to ten years.

In partnership with Vintage Worx CDT, Groundwork held some initial youth engagement sessions, followed by outreach work in College Bank and Lower Falinge. We held weekly youth engagement sessions over a five-week period. Over the duration of the project, Groundwork and Vintage Worx completed 180 surveys from young people from within the College Bank and Lower Falinge neighbourhoods. This is in addition to the feedback from over 300 people on developing the masterplan proposals.

In addition, we worked with Rochdale Council to hold video discussions with children and young people involved in activity groups in the neighbourhoods about what they liked about their neighbourhood, what they did not like, and what they wanted to see in the future.

We also encouraged young people and their families to attend the regular consultation sessions so that we could listen to their views. We had a positive response with some excellent conversations held with our team. This is included in the feedback from over 300 people that helped shape the proposals in early 2017.

One message that came strongly from young people in the area was that although they appreciated that Falinge Park provides excellent green space right on the doorstep, they were worried about crossing the road safely. Safe access to the neighbourhood is a key priority for RBH, for the Council, and for local residents, and is something we are determined to address.

Young people and young families also told us that they wanted to see homes in the town centre with private garden space, in addition to maintaining public green space. The only homes in the Lower Falinge and College Bank neighbourhoods with private garden space are those built by RBH in recent years. As a result, our plans include homes with gardens in addition to new apartments and where possible direct access to private garden space for retained homes. One of the issues is the design of existing homes in Falinge with the three bed family homes above the one-bedroom homes; while we can create some direct access to rear gardens from the one bedroom homes in future this is not possible for the three bedroom homes.

A number of young people, and also local parents of young children, expressed concerns about the current location of the play area within Lower Falinge – in particular that the nature of the space enclosed by flats made them much less likely to use it and to consider it to be a safe space. As a result, we are providing a brand new open green space at the heart of our current phase of development, designed to be more open, welcoming, and safe for all those who wish to use it.

Young people also told us about the importance of the kick pitch. Local community groups also provided this feedback. As a result, we delivered a brand new kick pitch in an improved location, and we delivered on our promise to the community that (despite increasing both the cost of and the time to build the new homes on Toad Lane) we would not decommission the old kick pitch until the new facility was available for use.

The Proposals

Find out more about what we’re proposing at College Bank and Lower Falinge.

The Vision

Supporting the wider regeneration of Rochdale with significant investment.

Next Steps

We still have a long way to go, but here’s what we plan to do next.