College Bank and Lower Falinge: Frequently Asked Questions

We know that residents have lots of questions about the potential improvements at College Bank and Lower Falinge, so here are the most frequently asked to help keep you informed.

This FAQ was last updated on 21st September 2017.

Why does RBH need to look at options and additional investment for College Bank and Lower Falinge?

We know that there are people who enjoy living in Lower Falinge and College Bank, but unfortunately, people don’t choose to live in these neighbourhoods compared with many other RBH homes.

We want to explore how additional investment could change this and improve the quality of the homes and neighbourhood for current and future residents.

 

What options have you looked at?

Together with residents, we looked at a number of options for the future of College Bank and Lower Falinge and what these could mean for existing and future residents. These options included:

  • Continuing to manage College Bank and Lower Falinge as they are - the repair and review option
  • Extra investment to improve the existing homes for people living in them now and in the future
  • Some demolition of the existing homes, and what type of homes and facilities could replace these: the "re-think" option

We are also seeking to understand how we could provide additional support to help existing and future residents access employment opportunities and to progress in their career, as well as improve their health and quality of life.

 

What is the current proposal?

We are still in the early stages of the consultation process, but based on feedback received so far and an assessment of potential funding from both the Government and other sources, we are currently working up more detailed proposals for redeveloping both neighbourhoods, which could include some demolition of the existing homes.

 

What would this redevelopment include?

Proposals for College Bank could see three blocks stay in the neighbourhood, which would be fully modernised to provide great quality, high rise, town centre homes. The remaining four blocks could be replaced with new development.

At Lower Falinge, some blocks would be demolished and new homes built of different types and sizes. Proposals also include an improved play area, better parking for residents and further investment in the retained flats.

For both neighbourhoods, open and shared spaces would also be enhanced and connections improved to the town centre.

 

How much will this preferred option cost?

These ambitious proposals will cost multi million pounds. As we develop the detail further, we will be able to share more cost information.

 

Are the plans we saw at the consultation event in June, the final ones?

No. Although we are now currently focusing on redevelopment, the plans are still evolving and we will continue to consult with local residents to shape them over the course of this year and ensure the neighbourhoods meet the needs of current and future residents.

 

What would happen if I have to move home?

We know that each household would have different re-housing needs and concerns. We will  let residents know at least a year in advance if they needed to move and offer tailored support throughout this time, ensuring they have enough time to prepare and find a new home. We know this could be a stressful time for people and we would look at how we could best support people during this time.

The teams at RBH are very experienced in supporting residents through times of change, but we will also work with specialist partner agencies where appropriate  to ensure that you receive the support that is right for you.

Where possible, this would include accommodating people’s preferred location for a new home and we will work hard to achieve this.

We will continue to keep all residents updated on timescales to make sure they know when their home could be affected by proposals long before any final decisions are made.

 

Could I still live in the Town Centre if I wanted to?

Yes, we can now guarantee that any residents who would like to stay in the town centre will be able to do so if they need to be rehoused as part of our proposals.

This commitment will form part of the Residents’ Deal, which we are seeking to develop in partnership with the local community.

This answer was updated on 21st September 2017.

 

As an RBH tenant, could I have the same number of bedrooms if I had to move?

Yes.  You would have the highest priority for rehousing and the option would be ‘like for like’ in terms of number of bedrooms.  If you want to have a different sized home to better meet your future needs, this is something we could talk through as part of the rehousing process.

 

As an RBH tenant, would I receive any compensation if I had to move home?

RBH tenants that need to move home would be entitled to compensation of £5,800, an amount set by the Government but paid by RBH. This figure is the total for all tenants living at an address and payable to those on the tenancy agreement.

In addition, we would pay residents a disturbance payment of £500 plus £250 towards the costs of removals. 

If a RBH tenant has any rent, service charge or recharge arrears these would be deducted from the compensation.

 

As a homeowner, what would happen if I had to move?

We would offer to purchase the property and support you to either buy or rent a new home. This offer would be based on an independent valuation plus an extra 10%.  RBH would also cover all reasonable expenses incurred in the sale plus the purchase of a new home, for example solicitors, mortgage or survey fees.

If you own a home, but rent it out, the same applies although the offer would be based on an independent valuation plus an extra 7.5%. 

The Land Compensation Act ensures that you will be no worse off financially if your home is acquired to support regeneration.

 

As a private tenant living in a home in Lower Falinge or College Bank, what would happen if I need to move?

If your landlord is not RBH, your tenancy agreement will set out details about what your landlord must do if they end your tenancy.  This may vary from agreement to agreement.  If you need help with finding a new home then we can help you with this.

 

Do I have any options if I want to sell my home now? 

If you’re hoping to sell soon, we may be able to buy your home from you before any decisions are made about the future of the neighbourhoods.  Please contact us to discuss your circumstances and options.

 

If new homes are built, would they be the same size and type as the ones they replace?

We don’t have all the details of the new homes yet as it’s still early days. This will form part of the work over the coming months to ensure the neighbourhoods meet the needs of existing and future residents. As part of our home visits to we will be asking residents who are affected by the proposals what their future rehousing needs and preferences may be.

 

If new homes are built, would they be affordable?

We would aim to provide as many housing options as possible for residents, including homes for social and affordable rent and affordable homes for sale. We would also build homes to very high environmental standards, so they would have lower energy costs and be cheaper to run.

 

Will you use cladding to refurbish the remaining towers and will it be safe?

As further details emerge about the nature and cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower we will ensure that any lessons learnt are fully applied at College Bank including any modernisation work. We have already met with Rochdale Council to discuss this and we will continue to work with the Council and other partners including the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

 

Could RBH let homes to people who are working only?

Our aim is to provide a broad range of housing options to meet the needs of people of all ages and regardless of their circumstances, rather than restricting homes to one group.

 

Could there be dedicated blocks for older people at College Bank and Lower Falinge?

This is one of the options which we will explore further based on the feedback we have had from residents. A designated block for older people may still mean that people would still mean that residents would need to move home as work is carried out.  

 

Why can’t RBH just invest in more cleaning, caretaking and security to improve these homes?

Expanding these services would significantly increase service charges, making them unaffordable for many residents. We need to get the balance right between service levels and costs to residents, so as we develop these proposals in to more detail through future consultation events, we will be looking at whether different designs could help keep service charges affordable.

 

Are RBH still letting homes in College Bank and Lower Falinge?

Yes, and we will continue to do so until  plans are confirmed for each home. We will let residents know if a decision is made to stop letting homes.

 

Are homes in College Bank and Lower Falinge in lower demand?

Yes. We know that there are people who enjoy living in Lower Falinge and College Bank, but unfortunately, people don’t choose to live in these neighbourhoods compared with many other RBH homes.

 

How will this process affect the current management of College Bank and Lower Falinge, including repairs?

We will continue to carry out work to individual flats such as day-to-day repairs for all homes in College Bank and Lower Falinge. We will also ensure that our Neighbourhood Housing, Caretaking, and Community Partnership teams continue to provide their services in College Bank and Lower Falinge. 

Work affecting whole blocks such as window and door replacement is currently on hold and will not be carried out to blocks which we have identified as potentially being affected by demolition. Depending on how the latest proposals progress, the proposed investment for this work may be used to support new improvements instead.

 

What happens next?

We are still in the early stages of our proposals.  Over the coming months we will be:

  • Visiting every resident at their home to discuss the proposals, how they may be affected and next steps.
  • Holding more consultation events - these will be based on themes such as new homes, public areas and landscaping, play areas and car parking.
  • Continuing to hold our informal weekly drop-in sessions.
  • Preparing a masterplan for College Bank and Lower Falinge which we expect will be completed by late 2017.
  • Working closely with Rochdale Council to include the Masterplan work in their planning documents which are planned to be completed by Spring 2018.
  • Actively seeking funding to support the Masterplan work, which could be from the Government, the private sector and from RBH’s own resources.

 

How can I have my say on the options?

We know that local residents know their area best and we want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to let us know their views.

As well as attending our future consultation events, you can provide your feedback by:

If you are unable to attend a consultation event or our weekly drop-in sessions then please do contact us by email or phone and we would be happy to arrange a time to meet face to face which is convenient for you.

If English is not your first language and you would like any information translating then please do let us know and we will be happy to help. The same goes if you would like information providing in large print or braille.

If you have an idea of a different way to have your say then please do let us know.

 

What is the Residents' Deal?

At the consultation workshop in June we asked residents if they were interested in being involved in looking at the options for a Residents' Deal. This would set out how RBH and the community could work together to make the future neighbourhoods great places to live. One of our themed consultation workshops will be to look at this idea further and agree the next steps together with the community.  

 

Who is helping RBH with this work?

We have secured funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government to support the cost of external expert organisations which are helping us with the Masterplan including:

  • Levitt Bernstein – a nationally renowned architectural practice.
  • The RSA – a charity which is looking at how we can provide more support to residents at College Bank and Lower Falinge to help them into work.
  • Groundwork and Vintageworx – organisations which are helping us to engage young people in the process, ensuring the next generation can also have a say on the options
  • AECOM – a consultancy which has been commissioned by the Council to assess how roads and infrastructure could be improved in and around the Town Centre.
  • You – the community. You are the experts in the areas that we are talking about, these are your homes and your community. Your opinions, thoughts and concerns matter and we want to hear from you.

 

How are RBH paying for external organisations to help them?

We have secured funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government to support the cost of commissioning external organisations. This grant will also help us pay for work over the next year on more detailed planning, technical and financial studies to help us agree the best options for future investment.

 

What is the petition I have heard about for College Bank?

We understand that some people have concerns about the proposals and potential redevelopment at College Bank and that a petition opposing any demolition at College Bank has been presented to the Council. There is also a significant number of residents who are pushing for change and a wider choice of affordable, high quality homes in Rochdale Town Centre.

These proposals are still in the early stages, so we will be continuing to consult widely on the potential improvements and investment. With the input of the local community, we want to create sustainable neighbourhoods that best meet the needs of both current and future residents, and improve people’s homes and quality of life.

The next step in the consultation is to talk individually to each of the 1,200 households in Lower Falinge and College Bank over the summer about what the plans may mean for them and to discuss any queries.

If anyone who has signed the petition would like to talk to us about their concerns before we visit them, then we would be happy to do so.

 

Are there any plans to have a public/private partnership for the redevelopment? This has been the model for redevelopments elsewhere, not always to the advantage of the tenants. Is this being considered as an option?

Our priority is to provide a mix of homes to meet the needs of existing and future residents. We don’t yet know what partnerships may be required to deliver the scheme in full, but it is likely that across central Rochdale there are some sites where we may look for private sector investment in addition to funding from RBH and the public sector.

 

Will the money generated by the redevelopment be put back into the communities?

As a tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society, we are not-for-profit, and any money raised by RBH is invested in our communities and in our services. As part of the proposals, we’re looking at how we can deliver better community facilities and spaces and tailored support for local people to progress in their career.

 

When you say 'like for like' in the proposals, does this mean, for instance, that a tenant retains a secure tenancy when they move, or will it be regarded as commencing a new tenancy? Will this mean they are then offered an assured tenancy?

This means like for like in terms of number of bedrooms for existing RBH tenants.   If an RBH tenant chooses to move to another RBH home, they will keep their existing tenancy conditions.

 

Will the new home offered be of an equivalent size, and of an equivalent standard?

Tenants who may need to move home will have the highest priority for rehousing and the option would be ‘like for like’ in terms of number of bedrooms. As part of our visits to every household, we are talking to people about what their future needs will be.  Our experience from carrying out regeneration in other neighbourhoods is that people’s needs change and many households take the opportunity of having the highest rehousing priority to move to a larger or smaller home that better meets their needs, or to a different type of home (a house instead of a flat, for example).

All RBH homes meet the decent homes standard and our new build homes are built to excellent standards. Feedback that we have had from people moving into new build homes is that they are comfortable, warm, cheap to run and have great standards for space and storage.

 

I have seen concerns about tower blocks in Southwark on the news, is there a problem at College Bank?

No. The towers in Southwark that have been in the news are a different design to College Bank, and College Bank does not have a gas supply. The safety of our tenants is our highest priority for our day-to-day management and in our planning for the future.