Agenda item

Thetford Regeneration (Agenda Item 14)

To receive a presentation from David Thompson and Nicole Le Rond from Ingleton Wood, Laura Handford from Flagship Housing Group and the Council’s Principal Housing Officer (Strategy and Enabling).

Minutes:

At a previous meeting of the Committee Members had requested further information on the plans for regeneration of the Barnham Cross Estate.

 

The Council’s Principal Housing Officer (Strategy and Enabling) introduced Liz Robinson from Oxburys (Project Managers), Laura Handford from Flagship Housing, and Nicole LeRonde and David Thompson from Ingleton Wood (Architects).  They gave an informal presentation.

 

David explained that the original brief had been to assess the Estate which comprised about 800 dwellings, some small shops, a community centre and two schools.  Regeneration proposals included the improvement of parking and open space facilities and the replacement of out-dated buildings.

 

There were long-term goals, but quick wins were needed to build the confidence of residents in the ability of the project to succeed.  Crime reduction was also key.

 

A number of partners were involved including an active group of residents known as the Barnham Action Group and the Norfolk Constabulary. 

 

One main issue identified was that the estate had not been designed to cope with the present day level of car ownership.  Some garage courts were not used, leading to vandalism and security problems.  Residents wanted to park close to their homes and this led to damage to green areas.

 

An Open meeting was held to which everyone was invited.  A Steering Group was formed and a Masterplan developed. 

 

The estate was divided into zones and each area was surveyed and a record made of the current state.  Strategies were created.

 

-        Where possible, green spaces and trees would be protected and preserved, but where this was not possible they would be removed and replaced with formal parking areas.

-        44 poor grade houses would be re-developed providing 80-100 new dwellings built to Code Level 4.

-        The old shops (all vacant) and community centre would be replaced with new to provide a focal point for the estate.

 

Nicole told Members that lessons had been learned during this process.  The most valuable being the need to keep people involved at all stages by partnership working and inclusive consultation. 

 

Flexibility and funding were also key issues.  It would be necessary to identify development partners and to source funding.  It was hoped that Moving Thetford Forward would contribute to funding for the Beech Close parking improvements.  The HCA (Home and Communities Agency) was another potential funding source. 

 

Laura said that the residents were starting to believe that positive results could be achieved.  It was a very big job and help would be needed to co-ordinate all the landowners involved.  The fact that so many different landowners were involved would complicate the process.

 

This was not just a one-off scheme and would be rolled out to the Abbey and Redcastle estates which had different designs and would require different solutions.

 

The following questions were asked during the presentation:

 

  1. How can whole areas be re-developed when some houses are in private ownership?

 

  1. 95% of owner/occupiers were in favour of what was proposed.  Owners would be worked with on an individual basis to reach agreement.  Some dwellings would be bought, other owners might be offered new homes if required.  Compulsory Purchase would only be considered as a last resort.

 

  1. Has consideration been given to providing young people with a place to go – they need a building of their own?  If they have nowhere to go problems with anti-social behaviour are likely to recur.

 

  1. This project did not include a youth facility as there were no resources to run one.  However, this aspect was being looked at by the Moving Thetford Forward Board and had not been forgotten.

 

  1. It was no good building new shops if they would remain empty.  What was being done to encourage the right sort of businesses to the estate – such as a Post Office and a grocers shop?

 

  1. The Economic Development Team was involved in this work.

 

Finally it was noted that Swain Close was being planned as a single development with work phased over a number of years.  The planning application for this would come to the Committee at the end of the year.

 

A Member noted that the cost would be immense and asked if some of the houses would be sold on the open market.  Laura advised that they were working out the costs and details were not known at the moment.

 

The Chairman thanked them for a very useful and enlightening presentation.