Sunday, 29 December 2013

Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder alive and well in Hyndburn

Why the Hyndburn Labour Party should take credit for the innovative Woodnook regeneration scheme attracting national attention...

I missed the BBC programme 'Empty Homes' broadcast last month which had a piece on Hyndburn Labour Party's innovative Woodnook regeneration scheme (which the Council were instructed to undertake) and which has attracted much attention from TV companies and the trade press.

You can rewatch the video here on Vimeo.

However the BBC's coverage if you watch it trots out the same old mis-information. That previous government housing scheme had failed referring presumedly to Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder. 

I feel obliged to write to the BBC to ask them to justify such assertions particularly considering the scheme today is almost identical to the scheme the Labour Party put forward in 2007 using Housing Market Renewal funding and yet it today's scheme is deemed by the BBC (and everyone else) a success.

I personally campaigned since 2005 with the then and current Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration Clare Pritchard for regeneration to be undertaken in the neglected neighbourhood. During the Conservative years spending focused on Blackburn Road and despite a decade of broken promises, little resource or effort went to Woodnook - the real basis for the BBC's poor reporting.

The failure is at a local level not a national one and I aim to keep repeating that for it is Hyndburn that will lose out if government housing schemes are deemed wasteful. 

In the 2009 County Elections I promised a future Labour Council would do something and with a Labour Council in 2011 radical change has occurred. That change importantly came about because Labour cancelled of £2m of projects elsewhere the Conservatives had agreed to up to losing power.

The crucial point is nothing has changed in Labour's plans for Woodnook other than less government funding (HMR was axed in June 2010) and the subsequent welcome partnership with PlaceFirst initially for extra funding and Twin Valley Homes to bring it all together.

I promised people in Woodnook in 2007 a Labour Council would be bold ... BBC’s Britain’s Empty Homes visit Woodnook

Labour's promise; large 2 into 1 homes, rent only-no sale, insulated, cheap, open plan, working ppl ... BBC visit ...

The key points established back in 2007 and which form the basis of the scheme today are;
- Reduce housing stock density
- Increase square footage and size
- Knock two homes into one
- Produce family homes with generous bedroom and more living space
- Have more families/children living in the area for longer - sustainability / community
- Put in the third storey / townhouses - make the homes bigger…
- Make them modern, open plan, lifelong and insulted to a high standard.
- Tackle car parking
- Do whole blocks not individual houses - cost / efficiency/ neighbourhood management / look
- Put them for rent NOT sale (40 years) - Pressurise high PRS rents / provide decent homes / secure management of neighbourhood / avoid landlords / infuse confidence in the area
- Rebalance the neighbourhood demographic by renting them only to working people
I look forward to the response from the under pressure BBC for it is about time that someone spoke of the reality of £10m per annum Housing Market Renewal to Hyndburn. It was nationally funded but locally allocated. Today's Labour Council have pulled this (much reduced) scheme together with approximately £4m of funding.

In the end