HOUSE-HOLDERS have told of their dismay as their homes look likely to be demolished by their own council.
Most people in the Middlehaven area, just outside of Middlesbrough town centre, have already sold up to Middlesbrough Borough Council.
Just five house owners have refused to sell out of 180 but now the council has applied to the Government for the right to make compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to forcibly buy the properties.
The authority wants the 100-hectare site in the shadow of the Transporter Bridge and historic Old Town Hall, for a new Middlesbrough College campus, offices, leisure facilities, bars and campus.
Melissa Blackburn, 36, one of the last remaining people holding out, told The Northern Echo she had strong emotional attachments to the area. She was also annoyed the council’s offer of £51,000 for her semi-detached home with a £20,000 relocation grant was not enough.
She said: “I’ve lived here my whole life and my mother was here and was only 44 when she died here. There are old people who lived round here in the old flats and homes before these were built and were just devastated.
“The houses were only built in 1984 and there’s nothing at all wrong with them. They want to build new ones here, but don’t want to relocate us to them, for some reason I don’t understand. Their offer is rubbish. You can’t relocate to a similar home on what they’re offering. They say, ‘well, you’re living in a derelict area,’ but it’s become derelict because of them.”
Ms Blackburn’s neighbour, Anne Yassin, has already sold up for £56,000 plus the relocation grant, but said she didn’t want to. “I felt pressurised to move,” she explained as she by her living room wall which is covered with the signatures of people in the community lamenting the decision to demolish the homes.
She said: “My family have lived round here for generations, at least 100 years. I’ve lived in sight of that old town clock my whole life, in six homes. I thought I’d always be here.”
Middlesbrough council and the Homes and Communities Agency say Middlehaven will attract £150m-worth of investment to the area and the site has already created about 1,500 jobs.
As reported in yesterday’s Northern Echo, Councillor Charlie Rooney, the council’s executive member for regeneration, said the redevelopment would “play a major role in the town’s economic success.”
Anyone wishing to oppose the CPO must lodge their objection by Monday, September 1. All representations must be made in writing and sent directly to the Secretary of State.