Community Together newsletter: Summer 2020

This week, residents will receive their summer edition of “Community Together” – our newsletter for local residents in College Bank and Lower Falinge. You can download a PDF and plain text versions of the newsletter below. This edition includes:

  • An update on new homes, and plans for refurbishment
  • The latest news from our New Pioneers Programme
  • Information about our town centre lockdown survey
  • How tenants and employees have worked together to support each other during the pandemic

Download your copy of “Community Together” now:

Our caretaking service standards in College Bank and Lower Falinge

A number of residents have asked us about the caretaking service provided by our Neighbourhood Environment Team.

We set our how our team operates – and how we respond to reports from residents – in our service standards:

If you need to draw something to the attention of our Neighbourhood Environment Team, please e-mail us on or call us on Freephone 0800 027 7769.

Survey work in the Underwood block

In the summer of 2017, RBH set out long term proposals for improving the quality and mix of homes in College Bank and Lower Falinge. These proposals included four blocks at College Bank which would be demolished as part of the redevelopment (Mitchell Hey, Dunkirk Rise, Tentercroft and Town Mill Brow) and three blocks at College Bank for which we said we would explore the options for refurbishment and modernisation (Underwood, Holland Rise, and Mardyke).

We have been working hard since then to take our proposals in the town centre forward. We are now at a point where we need some more detailed technical information to inform the refurbishment and modernisation of the three blocks so that we can progress these options in more detail with the community. In order for us to do this, we need to undertake some further technical survey work and this work will be carried out in Underwood on Wednesday 8th, Thursday 9th and Friday 10th July between 8.30am and 5.30pm.

Last week we wrote to all residents in Underwood to let them know about the survey work. If you would like to know more about the work, click here to download a copy of the text of our letter to Underwood residents.

A joint statement from Rochdale Council and RBH

Rochdale Borough Council and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) are committed to a thriving Rochdale town centre, with the homes that local people need and successful retail, leisure, and cultural options.

Senior councillors and members of RBH’s senior team recently held a productive discussion about future housing needs and investment in the town centre area and specifically agreed to collaborate on a high-level review of the investment requirements for the blocks at College Bank.

Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration, business, employment and town centre living said: “We are pleased that RBH have agreed to collaborate on this piece of work and we will get it started straight away.”

Gareth Swarbrick, Chief Executive of RBH, said: “Our meeting was very constructive, we are happy to support this piece of work over the coming weeks and will share key information confidentially with the Council to enable it to be completed.”

We all want to see a thriving Rochdale town centre

A message from Gareth Swarbrick, RBH Chief Executive

We all want to see a thriving Rochdale town centre, with more homes, and the right quality and mix of genuinely affordable apartments and houses for current and future residents. This goes together with a retail, cultural, and leisure offer that encourages people to live, work, play, and invest in Rochdale. As Chief Executive of RBH, I know that I have a responsibility to work together with the Council and the community to deliver on that vision.

We are proud to be a pioneering mutual, in the home of the co-operative movement. Our tenant and employee members collectively own our 12,000-plus homes. Our members elect our Representative Body, and in turn, our elected tenant and employee Representatives appoint our Board.

I have never been prouder to be Chief Executive of RBH than I am right now. I have seen how our teams have continued to deliver essential services throughout the pandemic, and how our tenants and employees have worked together alongside the Council and community groups to support those who needed help the most.

We know that Rochdale Borough continues to face challenges – including housing. These challenges cannot be ducked or ignored, and not everyone will agree on the solutions. Our heart is in Rochdale and we will always act in the interests of our communities – our member owners would never allow us to act any differently.

We all know that Rochdale town centre will not thrive without genuinely high quality, affordable housing – and a mix of housing types that provide for every household type and every family unit. Residents have consistently told us that they want to see more family homes with gardens, but they are in short supply. Some people really value high-rise living, but demand for these homes is consistently low. The blocks at College Bank are over fifty years old – without enormous investment, they will not continue to provide safe, high quality homes over the next generation. Independent analysis puts the cost of refurbishing all seven blocks at over £90m.

It is with this backdrop that we have been working together with the community over the past three years. We know that not everyone will agree with us, but we are disappointed that a small but very vocal minority continually seek to make false and misleading claims about the motives of our team.

Our proposals aim to provide great homes for current and future residents of the College Bank and Lower Falinge neighbourhoods. We know that this is difficult and unsettling for some residents, which is why we have put in place dedicated professional support, and guaranteed that all residents who wish to stay in the town centre area can do so – with the same tenancy conditions and rights.

We have recently held constructive discussions with senior Councillors. Our door is open to anyone who wants to work with us to deliver what we all agree on – genuinely affordable, great homes for current residents and future generations in Rochdale town centre.

Social distancing advice for the lifts at College Bank

Our top priority is the health and safety of residents and employees – and to protect this we’re asking everyone to be patient when using the lifts at College Bank. To maintain social distancing, only one household should enter the lift at a time.
Please be considerate and give priority to those residents who may be less able to stand and wait, and consider using the stairs if you are able to do so. Our lifts and communal areas are cleaned regularly by our team.