Millions pledged for ‘trapped’ residents

COUNCIL bosses say they are committed to helping residents “trapped” in abandoned streets as part of a regeneration scheme.

Officers at Hartlepool Borough Council estimate it will cost £5.5m to regenerate the run-down Carr Street and Hopps Street area as part of its housing market renewal programme (HMR).

The majority of the 207 houses are empty and boarded up ahead of demolition, but there are still people living in about 50 of the properties.

The current government axed Labour’s HMR scheme as part of its comprehensive spending review but as a result of lobbying from local authorities a £30m transition fund has been set up.

That is available to the five most in-need areas, including Tees Valley.

A £6m bid has been submitted to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) on behalf of all local authorities in the region including Hartlepool.

Council officers expect a decision on their share in September.

Successful bids must be match-funded.

Hartlepool’s cabinet committee met yesterday to authorise, subject to confirmation from the HCA, the continuation of the HMR programme in the Carr Street and Hopps Street area and to match fund 50 per cent of the costs, between £2m and £3.5m.

If the bid is unsuccessful, Dave Stubbs, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said the local authority would have to fund it all.

He said: “The impact on the budget for £3.5m should be manageable, but of course that means that money is not available to prop up the budget for other things.

“If it has to be the full £5.5m, then that is a significant budget pressure.”

A further report on funding will go back before councillors.

Labour councillor Ged Hall described the £30m pot as a “derisory” amount.

The cost of the scheme, which is based on property value, relocating residents and demolition costs, would be spread over four years with work done in two phases.

Phase one would see the council buy remaining properties in Carr Street, Rodney Street, Richardson Street, Hopps Street and Blake Walk over the next two years.

Streets which still have people living in them will be targeted first before demolition.

The second phase would see the council buy remaining houses in Jobson Street and Hart Lane, and work with a developer in a bid to regenerate the area.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson said she had concerns about the time scale.

Coun Thompson said: “That is a long time scale, particularly for those vulnerable people to be trapped in these conditions.”

Of the 207 houses in the Carr Street and Hopps Street area, 18 have been bought and demolished, a further 71 have been bought with a sale agreed for five more and 15 are owned by partners in the scheme, Endeavour and Hartlepool Revival.

That leaves 98 privately owned properties.

The overall vacancy level for the site is 70 per cent.

Other HMR sites are at Belle Vue, where 97 new homes are being built, and the Perth Street area, were 95 new homes will be built.