Story: Rohan Francis
Residents in Page Hall are set to lose out on £1.7 million of regeneration cash after the Council was unable to identify any housing projects in the area to spend it on.
37 Council-owned Houses in Page Hall and Fir Vale, which were renovated using Housing Market Renewal (HMR) funding, are for sale. The HMR funding was allocated to regenerate Page Hall in 2005. So far, 13 properties have been sold, generating nearly £580,000 for the Council. The remaining houses could make a further £1.1 million when they are released on to the market.
Previously, the Council had planned to reinvest the money back into Fir – Vale. However, new rules, introduced in January by the previous Lib Dem administration, will allow cash from the sale of Council-owned properties in Page Hall to be spent outside the area.
Under the new plans, proceeds from the sale of Council property can now be spent on housing regeneration projects across any of the City's three HMR areas – The South, which includes Park Hill, Norfolk Park and the Manor; The North, which covers Southey and Owlerton and The East, which is our area of Burngreave, Fir Vale and Page Hall.
In order to prevent Page Hall's money disappearing across the City, a suitable local housing regeneration project must now be identified. There is some hope as the new rules state “Funding can still be allocated to activity in Fir Vale where this is identified as a priority.”
In previous years, residents have fought, and won, against Council plans to demolish their homes. Instead of spending HMR on knocking down the streets of Page Hall, residents got the money spent on small projects such as the ‘Homezone’ on Wade Street, improvements to green spaces and the ‘£50K Homes’ refurbishment project.
Asked what projects they had developed so that money could be reinvested in Fir Vale, Harry Harpham, Cabinet member for housing could not identify any, but went on to say,
“We have actively encouraged Responsible Landlords to buy properties and those landlords in breach of their obligations will be tackled using enforcement action. The Council have invested a substantial amount in the houses that were acquired and I am confident that we have improved the quality of the majority of the houses now being sold. This in itself is a benefit for the area and is making available affordable housing across a mix of tenure.”
In the absence of a suitable reinvestment scheme from the Council, the Messenger asked residents what they thought £1.7 million could be spent on in Page Hall:
“They should use it to make the housing better. How can they not find projects to spend the money on?”
“Some of the houses here are not suitable to live in. I’ve seen some houses from private landlords that are not suitable – some are good. Why not regenerate the houses and make them good to rent? Other areas can find their own money.”
Page Hall resident for 20 years:
“It needs to be upgraded like any other area, why single it out? It’s not fair. Other areas have been modernised but not here. I think it’s wrong that landlords buy cheap housing, they get good rent – they are benefiting. I’ve been here 20 years and nothing's improved”.