Leeds City Council has reiterated its commitment to supporting the residents of Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive in Oulton who are facing continued uncertainty over their future housing.
A council report published details the proposed redevelopment of the privately-owned housing estate in Oulton, as well as the work the council has undertaken and options available to support the community and to minimise the impact on the remaining families and individual tenants affected.
The report and the recommended options will be discussed by senior councillors at the executive board meeting to be held at the Civic Hall next week (Wednesday 20 October).
The estate is currently owned by Pemberstone (Oulton) Properties Ltd, which plans to redevelop the 70 homes concerned due to health and safety concerns around their deteriorating condition and sustainability which date back to their build type when they were originally constructed as pre-fabricated homes in the 1950s.
Pemberstone submitted a planning application in November 2017 to demolish the existing houses and replace them with new two, three and four-bed dwellings, comprising 49 market sale homes, 10 affordable homes in line with planning policy and 11 homes to which the same number of existing tenants with ‘protected rights’ would need to be rehoused.
The council’s plans panel refused the application in October 2019, due to the impact it would have on the existing community. Following an appeal by Pemberstone an independent government Planning Inspector then granted approval in January this year, citing the issues put forward about the structural deterioration and conditions of the houses as justification to approve the owners’ plans for demolition and redevelopment over any refurbishment of the existing properties.
Pemberstone subsequently started the process of serving ‘no-fault’ evictions in August 2021, serving four months’ notice on eight of the households that it has assessed as living in the properties most at risk of serious deterioration in condition. Of the 70 properties involved, as of last month there are 48 which remain occupied by tenants.
Leeds City Council has been working on possible options to minimise the impact on the residents concerned and has been seeking a solution that sees affordable housing retained on the site. Further actions put forward by the council include support for affected residents at risk of becoming homeless to find alternative housing, both in terms of social housing options and in the private rental sector.
The council also proposes that current tenants who are rehoused be given the opportunity to return to the affordable housing element of the new development through the agreement of a Local Lettings Policy between the council and provider of any new affordable homes. The proposal is to secure up to 40 affordable homes on the development.
Leeds City Council executive member for infrastructure and climate Councillor Helen Hayden said:
“All of our thoughts when looking at this issue must be on the distress the residents of Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive are going through due to no fault of their own, with their homes and their community threatened. We must do everything we can to minimise that distress and protect communities like these, which is why as promised we have brought forward this report for consideration.
“What we are proposing is a solution which would provide a significant number of new affordable homes with a Local Lettings Policy, replacing the existing properties with modern new homes built to high standards of sustainability, together with ongoing support for all the tenants affected. The issues raised in this situation are deeply concerning, and need addressing through changes in the law around ‘no-fault evictions’ to avoid it happening again to another community in Leeds in future.”
To see the report to be considered by the council’s executive board next week, go to www.democracy.leeds.gov.uk