On Monday 20th April, we received a letter from Cllr Daniel Meredith regarding our plans for the town centre. As this letter is in the public domain, we want to take the opportunity to respond to the points raised in the letter.
We have been working very closely with senior Council officers since 2016 to develop a positive way forward for College Bank and Lower Falinge. We want to ensure that this town centre neighbourhood provides good quality homes that meet the needs of local people, now and in the future.
A key part of this work has been reviewing the investment required for the seven high-rise blocks at College Bank, which are now five decades old. The latest technical cost report shows that over £90m is needed to provide the quality of homes that local people deserve. Neither the Council nor RBH have access to this level of funding.
As a mutual owned by our tenants and employees, and in line with our values, we have consistently been open and honest about the challenges faced in central Rochdale. We will not shirk responsibility for meeting these challenges head on and taking difficult but necessary decisions, right for the long term. However, if Councillor Meredith and his colleagues have a realistic alternative plan to generate the £90m-plus needed to fund the works to all seven blocks at College Bank, we would be willing to facilitate the Council taking on this responsibility.
As part of the local response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have worked closely with the Council and with other local partners to provide support to those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. We will continue to work together to ensure that those now in temporary accommodation are able to move into a good quality permanent home, with the right services in place to support them, as soon as possible. The fundamental challenges faced in providing the right quality and mix of homes in central Rochdale remain – especially the need to provide new family housing. Both the Council and RBH agree that high-rise flats are just not appropriate for housing families with children.
Despite the current challenges, this month we have progressed the next phase of new homes in Lower Falinge – with 55 high quality new houses and apartments on the way, all to be let at a genuinely affordable rent. The new homes we have built so far in Lower Falinge have received exceptionally positive feedback from our tenants and the wider community. We will continue to deliver the number, type and quality of homes that local people need, in central Rochdale and across the Borough.