Rehousing residents a priority

Perth Street
Perth Street

CIVIC leaders have pledged to make tenants who are moved from their properties as part of a multi-million pound regeneration scheme “a priority”.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s housing market renewal (HMR) programme plans to transform the rundown Perth Street area by demolishing 199 terraced properties and replacing them with 95 modern homes.

SAVE OUR POST OFFICES CAMPAIGN: Mayor of Hartlepool Stuart Drummond with Hartlepool Mail editor Joy Yates. Picture by LOUISE HUTCHINSON. (IRN

SAVE OUR POST OFFICES CAMPAIGN: Mayor of Hartlepool Stuart Drummond with Hartlepool Mail editor Joy Yates. Picture by LOUISE HUTCHINSON. (IRN

So far 108 homes have been bought “by agreement” by the council, costing more than £3m.

The development stalled after plans to buy the remaining houses using Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) were objected to by some landlords.

But earlier this year a planning inspector ruled that the council could use CPO.

There are currently 56 houses still being lived in.

Speaking at a meeting of the cabinet committee, Mayor Stuart Drummond, said: “It may take some time to get everybody rehoused but what we are going to do is to get people out as soon as possible.

“What I would like to see is Housing Hartlepool and other registered social landlords start to put properties aside now.”

He added that the council had been holding weekly meetings with residents and minor repairs and maintenance work has been carried out to ensure a better “quality of life”.

Labour councillor Stephen Thomas, who represents the Dyke House ward, praised officers for their work, called for lessons to be learned from the process and also asked for houses to be set aside for residents to move into.

The plans to use CPO were objected to by Jomast Property and Finance, which owns three houses in the area, and agent Thomas Stevenson, who represents 52 landlords.

They argued there had been no proper consultation with private landlords and that the proposals are out of date.

That led to a three-day public inquiry in February.

It has since been announced that Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, came down on the side of the council after accepting the recommendations of planning inspector Philip Major.

So far no one has appealed against the ruling and interested parties have until July 4 to lodge appeals.

If there are no appeals then council bosses can push ahead with their regeneration plans and buy the remaining properties using £5m of government funding.

Residents that are displaced because of the scheme and meet certain criteria are entitled to statutory compensation payments, known as home loss payments.

Tenants are entitled to payments of £4,700 while owner occupiers are entitled to a minimum of £4,700 or 10 per cent of the market value of the property.

That is on top of any fee agreed for the sale of their property.