The remainder of an estate of former mining properties is under threat in Oulton on the outskirts of Leeds.
The tenants had an A5 flyer pushed through their doors before Christmas informing them that the current Landlord, Pemberstone Ltd, was applying to the council for planning permission to demolish all 70 remaining homes and to replace them with 71 properties for sale. 15% (10) of the new homes would be “affordable” but still way beyond the financial resources of the current incumbents. The actual planning permission preliminaries had in fact started well before the appearance of the flyer and can be read on the public access area of the Leeds City Council site. The planning reference which will get you to the paperwork is 17/06933/FU (not sure about the last 2 letters but they seem appropriate as far as Pemberstone are concerned!)
!3 families have regulated tenancies but the rest are on 12 month shorthold tenancies who can be given 8 weeks notice to quit. Mavis and Barry with a regulated tenancy (protected tenancy) have been informed that they have to be offered a like for like replacement house within a reasonable area but they point out that “there is no guarantee that the rent will remain similar and the area for a replacement could be as far away as York some 25 miles away”
Those on assured shorthold tenancies will be given priority extra status to apply for a council property but only from the date of receiving notice to quit and in the local area there was a 71 week wait for rehousing in a 2 bed property last year and a 41 week wait for a 3 bed – even with priority.
A privately rented property would attract a rent of at least 100% higher than currently paid and John pointed out “my daughter recently found a property nearby after qualification as a midwife, but she had to find £1800in bonds and fees before she even got the keys”.
The tenants called a meeting and organised a delegation to the full council meeting. They were then granted an audience with council officers but were disappointed to be told that any planning objections would only be accepted if they were made on planning grounds. Matters such as children with mental health issues were deemed to be irrelevant but that view will be challenged at the plans panel meeting and beyond if necessary.
How can a desire to make money be allowed to take priority over the needs of a child struggling at school whose health could be tipped over the edge by the insecurity being felt by the families.
One approach under consideration by the tenants is to get the council to take over the properties and then lease them back to the current occupiers as council lets on the usual long and secure leases. The council would increase its housing stock by 70 units rather than have the amount of “social” housing reduced – and that is something the housing officers agreed to look at. Will the council be able to afford to buy and improve the properties? Of course they can
“We can’t think of anything else at the moment – whenever you stop the thought of where are we going to live comes back to the front of your mind” said Mavis Abbey and her thoughts are echoed by Susan Gould, Hazell Field and Cindy and John Readman.
The Tenants have arranged a meeting to plan their campaign this week on Thursday at 7.00 p.m. at the Oulton Sports and Social Club LS26 4EL and will be reporting back to all the tenants about the meeting with council officers.
Since an article appeared in the Morning Star newspaper the campaign has gathered support from a number of organisations and areas. The Regional NUM have voiced support, People in Worcester have asked about a picket or rally at the Pemberstone head office and an email group of ex miners have taken up the issue throughout the region. Thursday could be a lively meeting as plans are formulated for taking the campaign forward.
People can sign the online petition by clicking here ,oppose the planning application here (athough it appears the link is “temporarily broken”) or contact the group through firstname.lastname@example.org