Monday, 30 November 2009

Tower blocks demolition to pave way for regeneration project

The demolition of seven prominent tower blocks in two inner city Leeds neighbourhoods could soon signify the start of one of the city’s largest neighbourhood regeneration schemes, if approval is given by Leeds City Council Executive Board on 9 December.

The tower blocks occupy land that will be developed as part of the Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck Private Finance Initiative (PFI) housing project. The proposal to start the demolition process applies to Holbeck Towers, Gaitskell Court and Grange in Holbeck as well as multi-storey blocks and selected maisonette properties at Carlton Gate in Little London.

Due to successful rehousing programmes led by Aire Valley Homes and West North West Homes, these properties have been emptied ahead of expectations with all previous tenants now living in homes of their choice. This has given the opportunity for demolition to be brought forward ahead of the appointment of a PFI contractor.

Since being fully emptied earlier this year the sites have attracted some anti-social behaviour causing nuisance to surrounding residents. The proposed demolition would prevent further deterioration and reduce the negative impact on the communities prior to the commencement of the PFI project.

With Executive Board approval, planning and preparation for the demolition, survey work and stripping out of the buildings can start, with actual dismantling of the buildings and clearance of the land set for completion by July 2010.

Once appointed, the PFI contractor will commence the building of new homes on these sites and be responsible for demolition on the remaining development sites, the building of new council homes, refurbishment of existing council homes, environmental improvements and a 20 year services contract.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for neighbourhoods and housing said:
“The early rehousing phases for the project have gone exceptionally well and I am delighted that all previous tenants are now settled and enjoying their new homes.
“However, we don’t want to be a victim of this success by creating blight or a setting for crime and nuisance behaviour with properties staying empty longer than is necessary.
“This is why Leeds City Council is working to bring down these properties at the earliest opportunity.”

The sites to be developed as part of the PFI will be levelled with hardcore and enclosed by a low level fence.

Notes to Editors:
The Regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck

Leeds City Council is making a major contribution to the regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The council has been awarded PFI credits by the government and is now undertaking the procurement of a contractor for the works.

The PFI contract with the private sector will be for the refurbishment of council properties, construction of new council homes, some environmental improvements and maintenance of all elements over a 20 year period. The PFI regeneration project contributes to the wider regeneration plans for Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck.

The partnership arrangement
The regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck is being led by Leeds City Council in partnership with the Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) which are not-for-profit companies set up by the council to manage and improve council housing stock. West North West Homes Leeds is the ALMO for Little London and Aire Valley Homes Leeds is responsible for Beeston Hill & Holbeck.

Project Scope
Beeston Hill & Holbeck

• 275 new council homes
• 388 existing homes refurbished
• Conversion of a sheltered housing scheme into self contained flats
• Environmental improvements to the Meynells, Ninevahs & Gaitskells
• Repairs and maintenance service for a period of 20 years

Little London
• 125 new council homes
• 853 existing homes refurbished
• Environmental improvements to Carltons, Servias, Oatlands and Lovells
• Improvements to play facilities and open space
• New shops
• A new housing office and new community centre
• Repairs and maintenance service for a period of 20 years

For media enquiries please contact:
Val Smith, Leeds City Council (0113) 247 8125