Story: Carlene Hepworth & Lisa Swift
Sheffield City Council has issued Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) against over 140 Fir Vale homes. Some home owners on Skinnerthorpe Road, Owler Lane, Bagley Road and Barnsley Road will be forced to sell their homes, so that the houses can be knocked down, as part of the Burngreave and Fir Vale Masterplan.
The decision was approved on 16th January 2008 at a Council meeting, although the Council has stated that it will still be acquiring property by agreement, rather than CPOs, for up to a year. 45 of the homes have already been purchased by the Council, while some residents remaining are waiting for new housing to be built on the Earl Marshal site.
No choice but to leave
Some of those who have already left, felt they had no choice but to go. Thazeem Hussain now lives in Firth Park. She said,
“We had to leave, we have small children and the house was damp. One night the ceiling fell in, but what’s the point of doing the house up when its going to be demolished.
The Council offered us a house for half price because it had to be renovated, but the repairs have left us in debt. In a way I’m glad I’m out of Skinnerthorpe Road but I miss the community.”
Shanaz Begum, lived on Skinnerthorpe Road for 12 years before moving out last year. She said,
“While we were living there, there were rats and mice, I felt that I had to move out. I don’t feel its fair to put CPOs on those who are left. They are bullying residents. The Council’s first offer for my house was 35,000, they eventually gave me £71,000.”
Both Mrs Begum and Mrs Hussain urged residents to keep on at the Council until they get the price they want for their house. Shaz, who is still a resident on Skinnerthorpe Road, thinks the council are not giving enough information. He said,
“They are not giving us any security. They are doing things in their own time. If we ask, they give; if we don’t ask, they don’t bother. It’s homework. You have to get it yourself.”
Broken promise on CPO
At a residents’ meeting in January Skinnerthorpe residents complained that Housing Manager David Shepherd had promised there would be no CPO until it was clear what would be built on Earl Marshal for displaced residents. There are still no plans for Earl Marshal but Councillor Chris Weldon promised,
“Anyone who wants to move to Earl Marshal, will be able to.”
There is a commitment that homes on Earl Marshal will be affordable, i.e. no more than the value of their current homes plus a Council loan of up to £75,000. One resident said:
“There’s no doubt that Councillor Weldon is trying to do his best for us, and we’d love to stay and have a new house on Earl Marshal, but we are worried they will be matchboxes.”
Residents were concerned that the development was originally planned to be 63 homes and is now going to be 70 or 80 homes. And no timescales can be given. One housing officer said that work would definitely start on site by September 2009, but with a new process being considered for choosing a developer, its unclear how anyone can be sure when building will start.
Chris Weldon made a commitment that residents will have a say on the design of the housing on Earl Marshal and that CPOs would not affect residents who wanted to move to new homes.