15th Jul, 2020

'We must learn from past mistakes with redevelopment plan for districts'

Ross Crawford 20th Jan, 2019 Updated: 21st Jan, 2019

“THE lessons of past mistakes are not be learned by Redditch’s Conservative administration”.

That was the view of Councillor Joe Baker who saw recommendations to safeguard the rents,

units and businesess in the planned redevelopment of Matchborough and Winyates centres rejected by the ruling group’s executive committee last week.

The proposals would see the demolition of both Winyates Centre and Matchborough Centre, the possible creation of a single centre to serve both districts and the construction of more than 400 new homes.

Coun Baker (Lab, Greenlands), chairs the council’s all party overview and scrutiny committee (O&S) and it had unanimously recommended that ‘assurances be given that no Council housing stock or business unit assets would be lost from the redevelopment of the Winyates and Matchborough district centres’.

He said not only would the 29 council house tenants affected have no guarantee of getting another council house under the re-development, but the same would apply to business owners in the centres.

Not only that but the rent they currently pay to the council would instead go to a private landlord, losing the authority cash – as had happened when Church Hill centre was re-developed.

In the end the meeting agreed an amendment ‘that assurances be given that there will be no net loss in council housing stock in the future development of the Matchborough and Winyates District Centres’.

However with regards to the businesses the ruling group said it would be wrong to put such restrictions on developers at this early stage.

Speaking after the meeting Council Leader coun Matt Dormer (Con, West) said: “At the moment we cannot guarantee the commercial aspect and I do not want to make promises we might not be able to fulfill.

“However I would like to think the commercial aspect will increase. The same applies to affordable homes – we want to increase the number of affordable homes in this development, not restrict them.”

He acknowledged the mistakes in the re-development of Church Hill but promised the council would “emerge with more than we went in with in Winyates and Matchborough”.

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