Wycombe Labour today demanded to know what is happening to the redevelopment of the flats in the Castlefield Star Blocks. The redevelopment was promised by Wycombe District Council to Council tenants in 2011 to persuade tenants to vote for the transfer of over 6000 Council homes to Red Kite.
Councillor Hanif Mohammed, Labour Councillor for Castlefield and Oakridge, said “I have been asking Red Kite for months about this re-development.
It was promised to Council tenants. The Housing Transfer Offer to tenants said Red Kite would invest about £10.5 million to regenerate the block of flats and provide additional new affordable housing. The redevelopment is meant to be finished by the end of this year.
This is what the Project Manager said in response to my request for information on progress with the redevelopment: -
“Last weeks drop in sessions where an opportunity for the team to catch up with 8 out of 18 returning residence, all of which were excited to hear that we have been busy rehousing the residents and are on track for phase 1 of the regeneration to be cleared by the end of February 2016.
We will have more news to report by the end of January 2016 when we hope to appoint the successful contractor”.
This tells me nothing. I don’t even understand what it means. What is a returning residence ? And how can a returning residence get excited? What is meant to happen in Phase 1 which is on track? What is the successful contractor going to be contracted to do?
By March last year, 130 properties providing social housing had been lost from Red Kite’s books. As far as I am aware, Red Kite has not built one new social or affordable home. The redevelopment of the Star Blocks is desperately needed. So too is new social housing in Castlefield. We need affordable housing as well but Red Kite’s role is to provide social
housing and I expect the new additional housing to be social not affordable. Affordable housing just means the rent is something like 80% of the local going rate.
I want to know where the plans are. What will be achieved in each phase of the plan and by when? And what has been achieved so far?
In particular, have the plans been submitted to the WDC's planning department for approval?
How many new additional homes are planned and how many of these are for social housing?
When does building begin and finish and when will the tenants and leaseholders move back in?”