Homes to be bulldozed despite residents' plea

CHRIS HAVERGAL Local government correspondent, Cambridge Evening News, 12 October 2012

DOZENS of council homes are to be bulldozed and rebuilt despite fierce opposition from residents.

Demolition of 24 properties in Water Lane, East Chesterton, and 24 maisonettes in Aylesborough Close, King's Hedges, was approved by Cambridge City Council yesterday.

The community services committee heard many residents were opposed - including 18 of the occupants of the one-bedroom properties in Water Lane.

Concerns were also raised about the lack of consultation.

But Cllr Catherine Smart, the executive councillor for housing, said tenants could not be given a veto over the future of council accommodation.

The council plans to replace the homes in Water Lane with 14 new council properties and nine which will be sold, while in Aylesborough Close there would be 16 council properties and 12 for the open market.

Cllr Smart took the decision after the committee split with four Labour councillors opposing the project and four Liberal Democrats - one of whom has a casting vote - supporting it.

Councillors heard many of the residents of the four bungalows and 20 flats in Water Lane were elderly and vulnerable.

Speaking on their behalf, Michael Bond, a Chesterton resident and chairman of Age UK Cambridgeshire, said: “What you are doing can only be done by winkling out elderly residents who had hoped to spend their few remaining years in peace and quiet, and by offering them nothing but uncertainty and grief. Some will not survive the experience.”

Some families from Aylesborough Close supported the redevelopment, hoping for larger homes with secure gardens, but other residents said they did not want to move.

Labour's Cllr Carina O'Reilly said tenants should have a say.

She said: “We need to take Water Lane out of this process until residents have been properly consulted and I think the definition of proper consultation is the chance to say ‘no’.”

Cllr Smart said residents being moved out would be carefully consulted about what sort of accommodation, and where, they wanted to move to.

At the same meeting councillors unanimously approved plans to rebuild Stanesfield Road Scout hut in Abbey, with nine new houses going on the site.


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