Cash to rebuild estate is pulled

Residents on East Bank Road in Arbourthorne
Residents on East Bank Road in Arbourthorne
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Residents living in 200 Sheffield homes will have to remain in houses previously earmarked for demolition for at least another five years - after the Government pulled funding needed to rebuild the estate.

The admission was made by officials at a public meeting organised by Arbourthorne Tenants’ and Residents’ Association for people living in the area’s remaining flat-roofed ‘5M’ council houses at Arbourthorne Fields, off East Bank Road.

Some 200 of the properties have already been knocked down and work is due to start next month on replacing them with new elderly people’s accommodation and a medical centre, a project which has necessary funding to go ahead.

But the same number of properties are still standing and remain occupied - with Sheffield Council needing £12.5 million to refurbish them or £18m for them to be rebuilt completely. The second option is favoured by the council due to the properties’ poor structural condition.

Funding for the remaining area of Arbourthorne Fields had been promised through the Government’s Housing Market Renewal scheme but the project, which aimed to regenerate rundown neighbourhoods across the country, has been axed.

Around 50 residents attended the meeting, at Arbourthorne Social Centre, on East Bank Road.

Winnie Smith, of Arbourthorne Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “We were told that due to the cuts and lack of Government funding, nothing will happen to the 200 remaining homes for another five years.

“Residents aren’t happy but at least they know now that they aren’t going anywhere for a while yet, so can plan for the forseeable future rather than being in complete limbo. People had even put off things like redecorating because they did not know where they stood.”

Mrs Smith added that the announcement means around 10 per cent of the residents who own their own homes cannot sell their properties and must also stay put.

She said: “People were fed up of living in limbo land and at least we know what is going on. A lot of people don’t want to move out and would rather have their homes refurbished.”

Arbourthorne Labour Coun Jack Scott, who attended the meeting standing in for ward colleague and council leader Julie Dore and her deputy Bryan Lodge, said: “It was good to see so many people in attendance at the meeting.

“The problem is that we are starting to see the impact of the Government’s cuts, which are causing massive problems. I am going to be working with residents’ groups, officials and fellow councillors to try to get some answers from the Government about funding to take the project forward - it’s our top priority.”

The meeting heard the redevelopment of the remaining area of Arbourthorne Fields was unlikely to happen soon - as major cuts of £50m are expected to council budgets until at least 2014, then preparatory work will be needed before the scheme can go ahead.