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Demolition plan put on hold after huge protest

RESIDENTS of West Accrington are celebrating after Hyndburn Council's Cabinet agreed to look again at plans to buy and demolish 124 homes.

RESIDENTS of West Accrington are celebrating after Hyndburn Council's Cabinet agreed to look again at plans to buy and demolish 124 homes.

Furious householders turned out en masse to oppose the compulsory purchase plan which forms part of phase two of Project Phoenix.

One of the worst-affected streets is Holland Street, which would lose over 35 homes, with Lower Antley Street, Blackburn Road, Percival Street and Poland Street each having over 20 homes demolished. Porter Street and Leyland Street are also affected.

Three spokesmen for the tight-knit community spoke at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting to express their strong opposition to the proposals which are aimed at regenerating the run-down area.

Zahir Hussain, 24, of Lower Antley Street, said: "People have lived on these streets for 20 or 30 years and their families have moved in near to them. It is a safe environment for our kids to play and if the houses are knocked down close family ties will be broken.

"Families cannot afford to pay additional money for new homes by taking an equity loan. Most residents are debt-free at the moment and want to keep it that way."

Imran Ismail, 26, of Holland Street, whose parents live on Poland Street, added: "For three years residents have been kept in the dark. Thay have not been asked individually what they think about the plans. The council is offering only £50,000 for our houses but the average price in the area is £73,000."

Over 300 residents from the affected streets and the wider community signed a petition against demolition, which was supported by a detailed report from residents of Poland Street, Holland Street and Lower Antley Street.

Instead of demolition, the report suggested offering grants to renovate the homes which it described as structurally sound.

Mr Mark Hoyle, Strategic Housing Manager, said he accepted the plans were controversial but said the project was geared towards trying to keep the community together.

He added that despite a widening house price gap, residents who chose to be re-housed would be offered a package deal and would not have to take on extra debt.

Councillors spoke to the three community representatives in private to try to thrash out a solution.

When they returned it was decided that the plan should be deferred pending a block-by-block review of the affected properties.

This will be carried out by two Conservative and two Labour councillors along with the three community representatives by 31 January 2006.

The entire Project Phoenix envisaged demolishing 600 houses and replacing them with 300 new homes along with community facilities.

A total of 188 have been dealt with under phase one of the scheme and the fate of the remaining 290 in phase two has still to be determined.

 

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