Council homes facing the bulldozer for second time

Chris Havergal, Cambridge News, 18 January 2013

DEMOLITION of council houses has been approved for the second time, despite opposition from tenants.

Councillors yesterday agreed to push ahead with redevelopment of 24 maisonettes in Aylesborough Close, Arbury, and 24 one-bedroom properties in Water Lane, East Chesterton, meaning many elderly and vulnerable residents will need to be rehoused.

However, the community services committee heard there was a possibility that Water Lane could be rebuilt in stages, allowing some tenants to stay put for now.

The schemes had been approved in October, but that decision was put on hold a month later amid concern about poor consultation.

As happened in October, it was the casting vote of committee chairman Cllr Susannah Kerr, who represents East Chesterton, which pushed the Water Lane project through. Labour abstained on the Aylesborough Close project.

The meeting heard from tenants and leaseholders who said they did not want to move, and received two petitions with several hundred names opposing citywide council house redevelopment.

But ruling Liberal Democrats said the council's housing stock needed modernising and rebalanced away from one-bedroom units to larger homes.

Jane Bennison, 56, who lives on Green End Road of the Water Lane site, said a "great percentage" of her neighbours did not want to move adding: "Don't allow this fine community to be destroyed, it's not a slum."

Vidja Magh, of Aylesborough Close, added: "We don't want to move, our properties are in tip-top condition."

In Water Lane, there will be 14 new council homes - three one-bedroom flats and 11 two-bedroom flats - plus nine houses for the open market.

In Aylesborough Close, there will be 10 one and two-bedroom flats plus six two to four-bedroom houses - as well as 12 homes to be sold on the open market.

Labour's Cllr Kevin Blencowe said the Water Lane scheme should be dropped.

He said: "This scheme is not welcomed by residents, it's not welcomed by the community, and I'm not sure its financially sensible to be giving up a parcel of land to a developer on the back of a net loss of housing units."

But Cllr Kerr said: "We need to match up to the needs of our housing list.

"There are many families wanting and needing larger properties and this part of meeting that need."


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