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Fury as Phoenix comes under fire

AMBITIOUS plans to regenerate run-down areas have come under fire from residents who claim they have been kept in the dark.

AMBITIOUS plans to regenerate run-down areas have come under fire from residents who claim they have been kept in the dark.

Properties in areas of West Accrington and Church are currently being bought up by Hyndburn Council as part of Project Phoenix, a scheme to demolish houses in the area and replace them with new buildings.

But at a meeting of Church Area Council angry residents said they were concerned about the lack of progress made on the project.

People complained they were not being kept up-to-date and some said that they did not know whether they should stay in their properties or move.

Councillor Jean Battle said she had been told by some residents that they had not heard anything about the project since August last year.

She added: "To be fair to the council, it has been difficult because we have got to find houses for people to move into. But I find it alarming that residents haven't heard anything as they were promised they would be kept informed month by month."

Director of Hyndburn FIRST, Mr Nigel Rix, reassured residents the scheme was progressing.

He said he would be attending a meeting of the West Acc-rington Residents' Association on 14 August when he would give residents a full report on Project Phoenix.

He added: "All residents will be invited so that we can have a full update. What we wanted to do was to arrange the next meeting after the planning application had been considered. This is due to happen at a meeting of the Planning Committee on Wednesday.

"In the meantime Hyndburn FIRST staff have been busy buying up properties. There's a lot happening and we are very interested to share that with local residents."

Some residents also complained that private landlords were snapping up the empty properties and moving in tenants, a tactic which the council is powerless to prevent, as no compulsory purchase orders have yet been made.

But Mr Rix insists that he has not been made aware of any problems.

He added: "In the early negotiations we have had it's not a problem that we have encountered.

"The risk for anybody buying a property in that area is that it will be a property with a very short life so they are not going to achieve any benefit as they will only receive what they paid for it. There is no bonus because the council will only pay open market value."

The issuing of compulsory purchase orders is subject to next week's planning decision.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist