Hands off our homes

VILLAGERS protesting against plans to demolish their homes are stepping up their fight against Doncaster Council.

Wednesday, 26th September 2007, 11:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th September 2007, 11:40 am

The residents from Highfields, where 81 homes are under threat, are angry about a new scheme to create a 'green corridor'.

The scheme is part of wider plans to regenerate former coalfield areas in Doncaster, Barnsley and Wakefield.

It would see three streets in Highfields razed to the ground.

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Margaret Richardson, aged 83 from threatened Coppice Road, has lived there since 1943.

She said: "My life's here and I've spent a fortune on my home over the years.

"They can take me to court if they want, I don't care - if it comes to it, they can knock the house down around me."

The results of a council consultation about the scheme are yet to be published.

But campaign group 'Highfield Campaign Against Demolition', have produced a survey which they claim proves opposition to the plans is almost unanimous.

Colin Masson, also of Coppice Road, said 86 per cent of residents were against the plans, and just 12 per cent in favour.

He added 94 per cent of residents wanted the houses to be renovated rather than demolished.

"I'd love to see what the council's results are - they surely can't intend to go ahead with demolition against the wishes of over 80 per cent of the community."

He said the council was dragging its feet over publishing the results of its survey, adding: "We did our survey in a week - and that included telling people the results."

The villagers have not yet been told how much compensation they will be offered by the council, but they don't believe it will be enough to move back to Highfields.

Ann Pawson, one of the campaign leaders said: "Most of us won't be able to move back here. A community is being destroyed. We don't want to move out of our village so why should we?"

Laura Bullman, aged 27, said: "They can't make me move. I was brought up here and I want my three kids to be brought up in Highfields. We only bought our house in March last year and we certainly wouldn't have done that if we thought the it was going to be demolished.

"I'm not against modernisation, none of us are - I'm just against demolition. If the houses were falling to bits that would be a different matter. But they're not - there's nothing wrong with them that a few quid won't sort out.

"Government after government has encouraged people to get on the housing ladder. We tried doing that and I just feel that we've been kicked in the teeth."

Doncaster Mayor Martin Winter said no decision had been taken.

"I am looking for a solution that unites this community, not divides it. This means that if we are to move the project forward, we must have a very strong partnership approach with the community at the very heart of it," he said.