20th May, 2019

Angry Redditch residents hit out over rent rises at 'affordable homes'

A GROUP of disgruntled Batchley residents say they could be left homeless after a series of rent rises on their ‘affordable’ homes.

Paul Hollis, who lives at Wildmoor Close, has started a petition in protest claiming residents are paying the same rent for a one-bedroom flat as a nearby three-bedroom house.

The close, which consists of 24 flats, six houses and one bungalow, was built on the site of Hewell Road Swimming Baths in 2016 after Redditch Co-operative Homes, part of the Accord Group, bought the land from Redditch Borough Council for £1.

Mr Hollis says residents were promised ‘100 per cent affordable homes’ and ‘flats with balconies’ when they signed the tenancy.

But, he claims he is paying £98.86 per week for a one-bedroom flat in Wildmoor Close, which is similar to a three-bedroom house nearby in Brittania Close at £98.85.

He said: “Once we moved in we didn’t get the balconies and the rents have gone up so much none of us can afford to live here anymore.

“We are really grateful to have a roof over our heads but it is a shame it has come to this, they have gone back on everything they said.

“Our Co-op chose to charge 80 per cent of local market rent when in fact they could have chosen lower, we have tried to bring it up at meetings but they simply ignore us.

“We want to be able to actually afford to live in our homes and not end up either homeless or having to wait again on the council’s waiting list.”

Councillor Bill Hartnett, the Leader of Redditch borough Council, said: “Redditch Co-operative Homes (Accord) have traditionally charged the lowest housing association rents in the town and are committed to providing high quality affordable housing.

“In developing Wildmoor Close, we received funding from the Homes and Community Agency which means the rent has to be set at an affordable 80 per cent of the market rent.”

Accord say they are more than happy to meet with Mr Hollis to discuss his concerns.

A spokesperson said: “We are naturally concerned Mr Hollis feels disappointed in certain aspects of his home.

“We can confirm the rent charged for homes on this development have been set correctly and that the changes to the external design of these high quality new homes were undertaken in consultation with Co-op members.

“The development of this site was challenging with high costs of demolition and asbestos removal as well as significant works to the adjacent brook.

“The affordable rent levels and features were made clear to all new tenants before they moved in.”

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