Residents of Skinnerthorpe have written to Councillor Weldon, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, to ask for more information about how they will be rehoused.
The Council have promised that residents displaced by demolition under the Masterplan can stay in Burngreave if they wish and that residents affected will not be worse off. In their letter, residents state:
“We understand in the Housing Strategy document that the Council were planning to build 413 ‘affordable homes’ in the regeneration areas. We want to know what the definition of ‘affordable housing’ is. We’ve been told that, in the Arches Housing development for Burngreave, the values of properties would be from £90,000 (two bedrooms) to £120,000 (four bedrooms). Is this a similar figure to what the affordable houses will be on Earl Marshal/Skinnerthorpe site? We want to point out that we on Skinnerthrope Road refuse to be put in debt.We want affordable homes to buy outright with 100% ownership.”
The Council’s own definition of affordable housing is £70,000, as stated in Planning Guidance, but it is unlikely that any property will be on offer at this price. At a recent Masterplan New Housing meeting, Arches said new homes costs at least £100,000 to build.
Questions were asked in July about properties at Page Hall, which were bought by South Yorkshire Housing Association with Neighbourhood Renewal Funding, when Page Hall homes were under threat of demolition. It was suggested these properties be offered to residents at market value, but it’s unclear whether this happened.
The Council have invited expressions of interest for sixteen new homes in Wensley provided by South Yorkshire Housing Association, while the list for Earl Marshal has been closed with the Council claiming:
“We were starting to get requests from people who had moved back to the area purely for a new home at Earl Marshal.”
It’s still unclear how residents will stay out of debt. The Council continue to offer shared ownership and loans, which some residents are unable to accept. The Council have conceded that they cannot offer Sharia-compliant loans:
“The Council has always been under the impression that the loans met the necessary Sharia principles under Islamic Law. We have taken advice from the Islamic Bank of Britain, who said that to be truly Sharia compliant, three changes need to be made including replacing words such as ‘loan, mortgage, debt and borrowing’ with the word ‘finance’. The Council feel this would be misleading.”
The Council have been unable to explain how they can prevent residents from becoming worse off, and residents seem unaware of the Council’s efforts to help them stay in the area.
by Lisa Swift