On Thursday 30th May the residents of Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close travelled into Leeds to attend the plans panel meeting that was to decide the future of the estate and their ongoing battle to save their homes from the developer Pemberstones.
Cindy Readman, the Chair of the residents association has been in touch with a run down of the days events in her own words:
“The day started with residents up early to prepare for a site visit from the Leeds City Council Plans Panel, putting up extra posters and banners around the estate. The panel arrived around 11am and walked around the estate and were shown the interior of one of the houses.
At 12 o’clock residents set off into Leeds and were met outside of the Civic Hall by some of their many supporters. A small demonstration was held with talks from Chris Kitchen from the NUM and ‘Hands off our Homes’ a charitable housing group who have supported our campaign from the start. Members of the press and a reporter from The One Show were also present.
The meeting began at 1.30pm and the residents were allowed 8 mins to put their case forward with speeches from Cindy Readman (Chair Residents Association), Chris Kitchen (NUM), Karen Bruce and Cllr Stewart Golton.
All the speakers spoke pasionately about why the Airey homes should be saved stating how it would destroy a community and have a great impact on the residents physical and mental health. The plans amount to nothing more than “Social Cleansing”.
There was also arguments put forward about the heritage value of the estate and its links to the mining history of this area. One of the panel members agreed that this was a valid point and needed further investigation.
Time was then given to the developer Pemberstones to put their case forward, their main reasons being that they believe that our homes have reached the end of their life, one of the panel asked the question that if this is indeed what they believe why did they purchase the estate 18 years ago knowing that these types of homes could require improvement in the future. They gave no answer to this, but we know that they paid the loan off (from the rents collected from us over the years) that they had used for the purchase 2 years ago around the same time as they first looked into the redevelopment of the site, coincidence or what!
Pemberstone also stated they had been in talks with a couple of housing associations about taking on the whole estate but refused to name them causing one of the councillors to state that this has been a way in the past to get plans passed and then not follow through.
After over 3 hours of discussion we were no nearer a decision being made and members of the plans panel voted 5 to 4 in favour of a deferment until further information could be gathered.
• The design, layout and appearance of the houses and gardens.
• The need for so many 4 bedroom houses.
• The impact on the community on the proposed development.
• The local housing need
• The heritage aspect of the site.
• The overall sutainability of the proposals.
Although we were very disappointed that a decision had not been taken we have plenty to move our fight forward with and have already taken steps to contact heritage societies for more help.
We have as yet not recieved any indication when the next panel meeting will take place.
This is not the end for residents our fight will continue to save our homes.”
HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP!
• Visit www.saveourhomesls26.org where you will find links to the groups just giving page and their change.org petition.
• Also on www.saveourhomesls26.org there is a list of contacts including our local MP, councillors, and Westminster politicians who you can contact by social media or by writing a letter.
• Tell them how the plans to destroy these homes will cause the following:
– Breaks up a close knit community
– Advocates social cleansing
– Destroys architectural & community heritage
– Will not contribute to any increase in the housing stock
– Reduces the number of affordable rentals in the local area
– Adds a significant carbon footprint to the area
– Legitimises a culture of “managed decline”
• Your views are hugely important so please document them as an objection to the plans, These reasons can include:
– How you believe a new development on that site will affect traffic, infrastructure and could strain the resources of the town.
– Any possible environmental issues it could cause the area or effects on nature.
– Social aspects such as how this has affected the health and wellbeing of friends or work colleagues who live on the estate.
Together we WILL save these homes!