Homes beyond repair

PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 May 2010

This picture was taken of corrosion to the frame of the empty bungalow and is being used by NHH to illustrate the scale of damage

This picture was taken of corrosion to the frame of the empty bungalow and is being used by NHH to illustrate the scale of damage

A HOUSING association which wants to knock down prefabricated bungalows against the wishes of residents has hit back at its critics. Last week The Comet reported that Letchworth Garden City Council had joined the fray and voted to oppose proposals to demo

Highover Road

A HOUSING association which wants to knock down prefabricated bungalows against the wishes of residents has hit back at its critics.

Last week The Comet reported that Letchworth Garden City Council had joined the fray and voted to oppose proposals to demolish the homes in Highover Road and Campfield Way, Letchworth GC, and replace them with more modern buildings.

But this week North Hertfordshire Homes, which owns most of the bungalows, launched a counter attack.

It said that contrary to claims the bungalows could be repaired cost-effectively, a full independent survey carried out on an empty bungalow had found this is not the case.

The surveyor had told NHH that even rectifying the structural problems would not help the homes meet standards set by the Government.

To prove its point, NHH said it was willing to open up the empty bungalow to let residents see the damage for themselves.

The association was also keen to dispute claims that the plans are against the wishes of all local residents.

It said it was "continuing to carry out detailed consultation" with residents and had just made individual homes visits, which chief executive Kevin Thompson said had "been extremely valuable" to both parties.

Mr Thompson added: "We have been able to have open and honest conversations with individuals and their families, and this has helped us to dispel some of the myths and rumours that have been circulated.

"We found that, in general, people respond much more positively than we had been led to believe."

NHH also hit out at claims that it was a private property developer seeking to build a high density estate in order to make money.

It said it is a not-for-profit, charitable housing association and would have to spend millions of pounds building the new homes.

It also launched a scathing attack on LGCC for opposing the proposals so early on in the process, before any plans had been drafted.

Mr Thompson said: "This is not the mature and reasoned decision making that I would expect from an elected public body, and I have written to them with a formal complaint about their actions."

But LGCC councillor Philip Ross believes the council was right to oppose the plans.

Mr Ross said: "We have knocked on every door and have had 40 residents come to a meeting on the subject.

"I consider criticisms that after listening to the views of residents we are backing them and speaking up for them to be a badge of honour.

"Indeed I make no apologies for putting the views of the residents first.

"It is their town, these are their homes and we are their town council.

"The residents know these properties better than anyone and they tell us that they don't want to lose their homes."

LGCC clerk Ted Bocking confirmed the council had received a letter from NHH and had sent an interim reply dealing with some of the points.

NHH's complaints will be dealt with by the council at its meeting on July 5.

* Email your views to: editorial@thecomet.net or via the website at www.thecomet.net. Alternatively write to: The Comet, Bank House, Primett Road, Stevenage, SG1 3EE

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