Run-down homes on a Sheffield estate finally face the axe nine years after demolition was first proposed - despite opposition from residents.
Sheffield Council’s cabinet is set to approve a plan to bulldoze the remaining 246 flat-roofed properties at Arbourthorne Fields at a cost of £1.6 million - although it has no additional money to build new homes on the site.
The council argues the homes have serious structural problems and also contain asbestos, making repairs ‘unsustainable’.
But people living on the estate say the homes, 53 of which were bought by their owners under the right to buy scheme, have deteriorated because of the uncertainty over the past nine years since demolition was first proposed in 2004. They also say that the estimated £48,000 cost of repairs for each property would be cheaper than reconstruction.
The 246 houses set for demolition are between Eastern Avenue, East Bank Road, Errington Avenue, Errington Crescent and Errington Close.
Other flat-roofed houses at Arbourthorne have already been knocked down on Algar Place, Algar Drive and the western end of Algar Road - which are being redeveloped as old people’s flats and bungalows.
George Day, a retired engineer who lives on Berners Road in one of the doomed council houses, said: “The council leader Julie Dore should be smpathetic to us. She grew up on Arbourthorne.
“Why can’t the council leave the houses alone? They are solid buildings and it would cost a lot less to modernise them than to rebuild.
“This is my home and I shall fight the council as much as I can.”
His wife Diane added: “The council could do the houses up. They are lovely inside. The council goes on about the roofs on our homes needing repairs but at one public meeting about the project, we were told apex roofs on traditional homes needed more repairs.”
Winnie Smith, of Arbourthorne Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “Most people do not want to move because they’ve lived here for years. The homes could be renovated.
“It’s nine years since we were told the properties were not fit to live in and the homes have become more run-down since because people don’t want to spend due to the uncertainty.
“Back in 2004, the cost of renovations for each home was put at £30,000. It has since risen to £48,000 but that is still cheaper than building new homes.”
She added: “People are attached to their homes - one man said he’d move out over his dead body.”
Sheffield Council said progress on the regeneration of Arbourthorne Fields has been delayed after Government funding to rebuild the estate was axed in 2011.
Coun Harry Harpham, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We are really pleased to be able to continue this major regeneration scheme.”
But he added: “We do not have funding for replacement houses. We are in talks with private developers.”
Pledge to minimise disruption problems
Sheffield Council has promised help for residents being forced to move due to the demolition of homes in Arbourthorne Fields.
The authority, which has secured £1.6 million from its own budget and two Government funding schemes to pay for the demolition, says the houses ‘are in a poor state of repair, with obsolete windows, doors and heating’.
None of the 246 homes affected has received modernisation under the Decent Homes programme, in which council houses were upgraded elsewhere.
Some 13 garages are also set to be demolished.
Sheffield Council said officers ‘will offer support and advice to tenants and homeowners’ including help to find a new property and advice about compensation.
Coun Harry Harpham, cabinet member for housing, said: “We want to ensure that the scheme is well-managed and disruption minimised.
“There will be regular formal and informal consultation with Arbourthorne Fields residents and other interested parties to keep them informed of progress.”
As well as compensation for owner-occupiers, the council said they would be offered loans of up to £60,000 plus £500 to cover legal costs to help them move to alternative properties.
The plans are set to be approved by the council’s cabinet next Wednesday.