An update for residents in College Bank (July 2022)

Below is a copy of the letter delivered to all residents at College Bank on Friday 29th July 2022.

Dear residents,

Some of you will have seen or heard about the Council’s decision to re-open its “Housing Revenue Account” and what this might mean for the future of College Bank. We want to make sure that residents are fully informed and have all the facts available to them.

We have not received any proposal from the Council on an alternative approach to carry out the works that College Bank needs.

It is misleading and unfair to you for the Councillors to suggest that there is an alternative plan to invest what is needed to keep the blocks safe and decent, when no plan is forthcoming. If the Council does have any clear alternative proposals, then these need to immediately be shared – with you as residents and with RBH.

We know that to carry out the works needed to all seven blocks at College Bank would cost around £90m. This figure has been confirmed by the Council’s own independently commissioned report.

It is not uncommon for a council to reopen its Housing Revenue Account. However, while it appears that the Council now plans to reopen its Housing Revenue Account, Councillors have not explained how they intend to fund this account. An empty bank account cannot provide the quality of homes that local people need in College Bank.

We are committed to our long-term plan for College Bank – the biggest investment in the area since the flats were built in the 1960s. We have allocated £12m to carry out the works needed to Underwood. We will also continue with the essential fire safety work on all seven blocks – the safety and wellbeing of residents is our overriding priority. Our dedicated and professional team are providing individual support to enable residents in Mitchell Hey and Town Mill Brow to move, and they are also working with residents in Underwood to move so that the work needed can be carried out safely.

Our door is always open. Remember you can email us on towncentre.regen@rbh.org.uk, visit our dedicated website, or call us on Freephone 0800 027 7769. We will continue to keep you informed as we deliver our long-term plan for Rochdale town centre.

Best wishes,

Gareth Swarbrick – RBH Chief Executive

Central Rochdale Residents’ Forum – join now

Central Rochdale Residents’ Forum is now able to meet face to face again and we are holding regular meetings at Spotland Community Centre.

We’ll update you on what’s happening with the town centre regeneration and it is an opportunity for you to give us your thoughts and feedback on proposals as they progress – so we can work together to develop the details.

Anyone living in College Bank or Lower Falinge neighbourhoods who would like to get involved, have a chat and a bite to eat should contact the Community Investment Team at community.partnership@rbh.org.uk or call 01706 273977.

Asbestos removal at College Bank

We’ve received a number of questions about the asbestos removal work at College Bank. This is part of our fire door replacement programme. We are very grateful for the patience and understanding of residents while we carry out this essential safety work. The work is scheduled for all seven blocks and as of 12th April 2022 we have already completed this work on around 40 floors over three different blocks.

The asbestos is being removed from above the doors of the bin chute room and the rising meter cupboards on the landings. We are replacing the asbestos panels with a fire-resistant board until the new doors are installed later this year.

Residents have been informed of the work in advance as they will need to leave the floor on the day of the work to make sure that they are safe. We use an accredited asbestos removal company, and we have submitted detailed safety and evacuation procedures at the start of the works in accordance with regulations.

Our contractor uses a three-stage air lock system which keeps the area under negative pressure and prevents any particles of asbestos remaining in the air once removed. After the asbestos has been removed and the area cleaned, we carry out air sampling tests to ensure no fibres remain. Once the air sampling is completed, residents can return to their homes and the process will continue on the next floor the following day.

An update about demolition works for Abbeydale, Yarwell, and Exbury

At the beginning of the regeneration proposals, we promised to let residents know directly and in advance about any planned works. In line with this promise, this week we have written to neighbouring residents about upcoming demolition works to the Abbeydale, Yarwell, and Exbury blocks.

We have now received consent from Rochdale Borough Council to carry out the demolition of the three blocks and we have appointed J Freeley Ltd to undertake this work on our behalf.

In February 2022 we wrote to residents to let them know that asbestos removal work in these blocks was starting and this work continues to progress well. The next stage of the demolition will be for the contractor to set up the site boundary, followed by the removal of internal fixings, before moving onto the external demolition.

We envisage that that external demolition of the blocks will take place from July/August onwards and expect it to last between 28 to 30 calendar weeks. This information is for reference only and these dates may change as work progresses. We will let the community know of any changes to this programme.

As the works progress you will see some increased activity on the site, but the contractor will ensure that all work is completed to the standard set out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) whilst minimising the disruption, where possible, to residents in the area.

The agreed working hours during the demolition will be 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 9am – 4pm on Saturdays (if required). Signage will be displayed with contact details for the contractor including the emergency out of hours contact when the site boundary is set up.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work, there is likely to be noise and disruption at times throughout the day as the demolition takes place. Please be assured that our contractors will aim to keep this to a minimum, and they are aware that some of the surrounding homes are still occupied.

We would like to thank residents for their patience while we work to progress the plans for the neighbourhood and apologise in advance for any inconveniences this may cause.

If you have any questions or specific concerns with regards to this work taking place, please do contact us.

Community Together: February 2022

The latest edition of our Community Together newsletter is out now! This edition includes the latest updates about our regeneration plans, some great news about our New Pioneers Programme, and information about how we’re making sure that our new homes are inclusive and accessible. Click the links below to download your PDF copy and the text-only version.

Residents in College Bank and Lower Falinge will receive their printed copy over the next few days.