300 homes on historic council estate could be bulldozed in £113m revamp
PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:14 03 March 2020
A huge overhaul of a historic council estate would cost £113m and see more than 300 homes demolished and replaced, it has been revealed.
Plans for a total revamp of Great Yarmouth's Middlegate estate were first discussed in 2018, with the town's borough council claiming the plans would be "incredibly ambitious".
And at a meeting of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's (GYBC) Housing and Neighbourhoods Committee on Thursday, February 27, more details of the long-awaited plans were finally revealed.
The planned work would see GYBC spend £82m and would involve the demolition of 301 of the estate's 535 existing homes.
Some 284 new council rented homes would be built, with 226 refurbished.
The project would leave a net gain of 32 extra council rented homes in the area spanning a swathe of streets from Yarmouth Way to Friars Lane.
According to Anthony Moore, Housing Growth Development Manager at GYBC, the planned refurbishment will "most likely go ahead" - subject to the plugging of a £14 million funding gap by Homes England.
Mr Moore said there was an opportunity to create "much nicer looking homes" for people, set with private courtyards and varied architecture.
But development must listen to the community's needs, with most "opposed to full-scale demolition".
The results of a community consultation beginning in 2018 showed the biggest concerns were over isolation, youth provision, living standards and rampant anti-social behaviour on the Multi Use Games Area (MUGA).
Councillors agreed that any money left from refurbishment must go into an assessment of children's play provision.
Mr Moore said: "The money has to be used to ultimately integrate the residents into our town."
"Although it feels like an island", Mr Moore said, "the people who live on the estate don't think of themselves as living on 'Middlegate'.
"Instead, they see themselves as belonging to a collection of individual streets and places, so development needs to reflect that.
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"Many feel that the seafront belongs to tourists, and that they are isolated from the town and King Street, even though it's close.
"And most people think the MUGA (multi-use games area) has created more problems than it's solved. This needs to be moved somewhere more appropriate, as kids congregate there - and a lot of the time they're not even from the estate.
"A lot of houses suffer from heat loss too, so those ones will be demolished. These are all issues which must be tackled."
There are plans to have new homes ready to move people into while refurbishment takes place, with home loss and disturbance payments covering the cost of the move.
Councillor Bernard Williams said that the scheme would be "extremely positive for the Nelson Ward", however Andy Grant asked that parking provision also be looked into to "make people's lives easier."
Chairman of the Middlegate members working group, Michael Jeal, said: "This regeneration work aims to make the most of the strengths of Middlegate and its community.
"We have listened to residents' priorities, including improving homes for the 21st century, the street scene, youth provision and linkages to the town centre.
"Please be assured that nothing is going to happen overnight, and no decisions have been made yet."
MORE: What's it like living on Yarmouth's Middlegate estate?
Redevelopment of "Great Yarmouth's most notable housing estate" has been debated over recent years.
In April 2017 the council was successful in its bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for £320,000 to undertake a feasibility study that would look at options for regeneration.
In January 2018, ARK Consultancy were appointed to carry out the report.
According to Ark's report, there are currently 535 homes on Middlegate, equating to 478 council rented homes and 57 in private ownership/leasehold.
After regeneration, there would be 623 homes in total, according to the report.
The total cost of the scheme is listed as £113,417,070, with the amount the council needs for the scheme costed at £82,122,155 - subject to the plugging of a £14 million funding gap by Homes England.
The Ark's 'Middlegate Feasibility Report' states that the current programme of predicted HRA borrowing for capital works and new affordable housing estimates that by 2048/49, borrowing will reach £335m.