Frequently Asked Questions

If you would like to ask another question, please contact us. This FAQ was last updated on 26/11/19.

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 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 has formed a part of our Residents’ Deal, which we are continuing to develop in partnership with the local community. More details about how you can get involved with the Resident’s Deal can be found here.

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.

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 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.

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 .

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

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 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.

However, in early August 2018 we submitted a full planning application to Rochdale Council for the development work on phrase three in Lower Falinge with detailed plans of what this area would look like. This included the type of new homes, the appearance of the homes including the materials, and the overall site layout. We received lots of ideas and thoughts from the community that fed into the proposals in phase three and we used that to finalise the detail of the planning application.

We held a community workshop on 2nd August 2018 so people could see the plans before we submitted them. You can find the display boards from the workshop here. Rochdale Council approved the planning application in December 2018, and work is now underway to deliver these new homes and green space!

We will continue to work over the coming months to ensure the neighbourhoods meet the needs of existing and future residents over the long term. As part of our home visits, 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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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 the Rochdale Town Centre area, College Bank and Lower Falinge. This would be achieved by using sites in the immediate vicinity, many of which are currently vacant.

Where will these 500 new homes be?

As we have said, these proposals are still at a really high level so all numbers are indications at this stage.  The latest proposals 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 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 larger family homes at College Bank as well as the refurbished homes and the new flats and houses within the Lower Falinge area.

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 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

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 are building at Lower Falinge currently and new homes in the future will form part of this commitment, and we are exploring through our Resident’s Deal how best we can prioritise the letting of these new homes to the existing community.

We are also exploring how we can prioritise the letting of retained homes and newly built 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.

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.

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 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 if the proposals go ahead. For some tenants a retained home will be their preferred option. 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 home visits 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 have 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.

All those who have been supported to move from Lower Falinge so far were able to move to a home in the town centre area if that was their preference. The same guarantee applies to those we are now supporting to move from Mitchell Hey. 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.

This FAQ was updated with additional information on 09/07/2019.

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 as well as lettings open days. We used paid advertising for these and targeted to potential customers 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.

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.

I have been given an Initial Demolition Notice, does this mean that I need to move now?

The Initial Demolition Notice is something that we have issued to tenants whose homes we expect to be affected by demolition within the next seven years and we will continue to let residents know at least a year in advance if they need to move. We are committed to helping our residents and if anyone needs to move as a result of confirmed demolition; we will work closely with them to discuss timescales, their rehousing needs, the rehousing process and offer tailored support, ensuring they have enough time to prepare and find a new home.  We are, of course, happy to talk to any tenants in Lower Falinge or College Bank about their current and future housing needs whether due to the regeneration or due to other factors.

How many people have you consulted on the regeneration proposals?

When we began our consultation, in November 2016, 27 people attended workshops at College Bank and Lower Falinge. We then held further workshops at College Bank and Lower Falinge in February 2017 and another in March 2017 which were attended by over 100 people. In addition we held informal consultation sessions in the lobby of all 7 blocks at College Bank in April 2017, where we spoke to 78 people.

At this point we worked with Commonplace to give an option for people to use the internet to submit their views on the options and ideas presented in February and March in addition to the workshops.  Commonplace recorded 295 answers in response to the proposals set out in the workshops.  This data recorded by Commonplace was illustrated as part of the presentation boards for comment at the workshop on 24th June 2017 and presented as pie charts.  It was recognised at the time, and explained in the workshop, that this snapshot was an illustration of community thinking in relation to the proposals up to April 17 and that it was also broadly consistent with discussions and feedback we had received from previous workshops.

On 24th June a new set of updated proposals were presented for discussion with the community.  We spoke with 88 people at the consultation workshops in College Bank and Lower Falinge on 24th June 2017.  Since then we have spoken to, 24 people at the consultation workshop at the Pioneers Museum on the 13th December 2017 and held a Facebook live chat on the 14th December 2017.  A further 43 people attended our last consultation workshop in Lower Falinge on 12th April 2018. In addition to our community workshops, we have spoken with over 600 households, as part of our home visits, and 102 residents responded to the residents deal survey. We have held weekly drop in sessions in both College Bank and Lower Falinge for over 12 months.

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.

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 don’t have any firm plans for what future investment in retained homes at Lower Falinge could include yet.

We will work together with the community to identify what the priorities would be for investment and we recognise that could include improvements within homes, external improvements to the block as a whole and external and shared spaces.

When will you start demolishing homes in the next phase of development at Lower Falinge?

We are in the process of completing all of the technical work needed, ready for the demolition to start this year (2019). We expect to start building the new homes in early 2020 and for them to be completed in 2021. We will continue to keep the community updated on timescales for this next phase and future phases.

Updated August 2019.

How have the latest new homes in Lower Falinge been allocated? Have residents affected by demolition proposals moved into the new homes?

We’re really proud of our new homes in Lower Falinge. All these homes have been allocated in line with the Council’s Housing Allocations Policy. A number of residents who were affected by the latest phase of demolition at Lower Falinge have now moved into the new homes – every resident in this situation who wanted to move to one of the new homes and was eligible to do so was successful in their application.

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.

What does seeking a delivery partner mean?

When RBH builds homes or invests in specialist refurbishment for existing homes we use an experienced contractor for each scheme. We are now seeking a single partner who can help us deliver all aspects of the proposals in the Masterplan area including building new homes across a mix of tenures including for affordable rent and home ownership, refurbishing existing RBH homes, delivering any specialist provision for older people, improved community space and wider public realm works. A partner will bring both their expertise and much needed investment. Working with one partner, rather than tendering each phase of the proposals separately, will not only give us value for money but enable us to build a long term relationship as a partner with RBH and the community and ensure great quality throughout the partnership.

When will we know who the delivery partner is?

We hope to be able to make an announcement on this by the end of the year. Over the next few months a really detailed process will assess both the quality and cost of what a delivery partner can bring via rounds of formal bidding and dialogue. The assessment for the initial round of dialogue has been set as 70% quality and 30% cost.

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.

Where have the households who lived in the blocks now being demolished in Lower Falinge moved to?

We supported all the households to move from Lower Falinge phase three between July 2018 and May 2019. This included 62 RBH tenant households. We were pleased that over half of households chose to stay in the town centre area. All those who wished to move to a new home in the town centre area (within 10 to 15 minutes walk of Lower Falinge) were able to do so, including families who moved from flats into our brand new family houses.

Everyone who wanted to stay in a rented RBH home was able to do so. Of all those that moved, 79% remained RBH tenants and 13% chose to rent a home from another housing association. There were 8% of households who chose a private option (either home ownership or renting). Some households chose to move to other areas for work or family reasons, with 97% staying in Rochdale.

It would not be appropriate to break these figure down any further as this may identify individuals.

How can we be sure that residents will not be exposed to asbestos as demolition takes place?

Any activity that involves asbestos removal, carried out by or on behalf of RBH, is done so safely and in accordance with all legal and regulatory requirements to ensure no risk to residents, visitors, or RBH employees.

We would always ensure that such work is carried out by a contractor who has the appropriate licence for this kind of work. For the recently completed demolition in Lower Falinge, Connell Brothers carried out the work and are a licenced asbestos removal contractor. The work was undertaken by their in-house team in accordance with the requirements of the Control of Asbestos at Work Act 2012 and HSE Approved Code of Practice L143. This followed a number of surveys that formally identified the location of asbestos within the designated blocks, in accordance with HSE Guidance HSG 264.

The buildings in Falinge were demolished using a combination of high-reach excavators and hand demolition. Water suppressant units were also employed throughout the process, in order to control and prevent dust generation. Reassurance air testing was also undertaken immediately outside the work areas to demonstrate compliance. All details regarding asbestos removal are documented and have been deemed compliant. This detailed information across a number of reports and tests will remain within our health and safety file on completion of the project.

We were contacted to ask for assurance on asbestos risk as demolition was underway in Lower Falinge. We provided the direct telephone line to the Site Manager as well as offering face-to-face meetings with the Connell Brothers and RBH team to demonstrate that all asbestos removal has been carried out safely, by trained professionals and in line with legal and regulatory requirements.

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.