First Choice Homes Oldham is to demolish two 1970s tower blocks as part of a redevelopment programme in the Coldhurst area.
The project includes improvement work carried out on more than 100 homes at two other high-rise blocks, Montgomery House and Littlemoor House, as First Choice seeks to establish a better gateway to the tow centre in one of the town’s most deprived wards.
Although consultation is yet to start on the development of the site that currently houses Crossbank House and Summervale House, it is likely that three and four-bedroom housing will form a large part of the plans, this being in particularly short supply in the local rental market. First Choice plans to build out 800-plus homes over the next five years.
A review by the housing association found that while there are no safety concerns over Crossbank House and Summervale House, both are unpopular with local people and would require “maintenance at considerable cost” to extend their lives. First Choice said that in 2017, 20% of residents in the two blocks had asked to move out.
A total of 247 properties will be lost. First Choice said that all customers will be supported to identify homes and will be given a high priority status on the housing list, with compensation of £6,300 will be provided to First Choice Homes Oldham customers moving out along with financial support for removal and relocation costs.
Vinny Roche, chief executive, said: “We understand that this may come as a shock to some customers. I want to reassure people that we have not taken this decision lightly and that our ultimate ambition is, and always will be, to improve the lives of people in Oldham.
“Our absolute priority now will be to work with customers living within Crossbank House and Summervale House, to discuss their needs and provide them with all the help and support they require to find and move into another home.”
The housing provider is to run a series of events on the rehousing programme, while staff will also be stationed at the Crossbank community room throughout October to answer questions and assist people in finding new properties. Work to move people into new homes will begin immediately and is expected to take between 18 months and two years.
First Choice is to consult with Oldham Council and the public to draw up plans for the site’s redevelopment, with the process to stat in the coming months. Roche said: “We have worked hard to develop plans that will give people better homes to live in, both now and in the future.
“We want to create neighbourhoods that provide people with a great place to live and deliver new properties that bring the right mix of quality homes to Oldham.
“The redevelopment of the high-rise site in the Coldhurst area forms part of our wider plans to invest in building over 800 new homes in the next five years.”