The Development Services Manager provided an update on the re-development of Gresham. The Gresham scheme was approved by the Council as part of the Vision for Older Housing in July 2005. The original plan was for demolition of 1453 properties in three phases but the project had been scaled back.
Phase 1 of the project comprised 418 properties and acquisitions began in October 2006. Acquisition of the properties was funded by the Single Housing Investment Programme and Housing Market Renewal Fund. The Housing Market Renewal Fund was ended by Government in March 2011, seven years into a fifteen year programme.
In August 2010, Phase 3 of the project (634 properties) was removed from the clearance area. Owner occupiers were offered £5,000 grants to undertake property maintenance in recognition that they had probably not undertaken any property improvements since their houses were identified for demolition. At the same time, a Homeswap Package was introduced. The Council had acquired properties in Phase 3 under exceptional circumstances and individual homeowners from Phases 1 and 2 were invited to make a case for a homeswap.
In September 2011, £14.8m borrowing was approved to acquire properties in Phase 2a. In addition, ten properties with a frontage onto Borough Road were brought into the scheme.
In February 2014, both the cost of acquiring properties, as well as the length of time people had to wait to sell them, led to the decision to remove Phase 2b (200 properties) from the scheme. In March 2016, the Council sold 62 properties in the Wentworth/Waverley Street block to a private developer.
In Phase 1, 349 out of 351 properties had been acquired by the Council and 303 properties had been demolished. In Phase 2a, 194 properties had been acquired out of 210. 11 Erimus and 10 Endeavour properties had been acquired via property exchange and 139 properties had been demolished. A total of 18 properties now remained out of 561. All acquisitions had been completed through negotiation with the individual owners. 5 of the remaining properties were owner occupied and 13 were owned by landlords.
On 1 November 2016 a report was submitted to Middlesbrough Councils Executive which gained approval for the adoption of a high level masterplan; the start of the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process to acquire the remaining land and property not in the Councils ownership; and the commencement of a formal market engagement process to identify developer interest in a proposed student village.
Teesside University had experienced a period of unprecedented growth and investment of £250m to develop its town centre campus. The Universitys 2020 Corporate Strategys stated aims were to grow student numbers and revenue on and off campus; and deliver and maintain a high quality campus and associated infrastructure to maximise the student experience.
The Gresham site, with close proximity to both the town centre and Teesside University campus, had been identified as an ideal location for a high quality, private sector, off-campus development. Reference was made to the Trinity Square development which provided accommodation for students of Northumbria University in Gateshead, as an example of a successful private sector student village scheme.
It was envisaged that a residential development in Gresham would be the second phase of re-development, with the student village acting as a catalyst to attract a higher quality product. The Councils vision was to encourage developers to deliver high quality homes, predominantly for sale, but with some for affordable rent, to assist in the creation of a stable, vibrant and balanced town centre housing market. A range of house types would be provided to help diversify the housing offer and attract new residents to the area.
In addition an open space had also been identified as part of the Gresham masterplan. The location of the open space was a critical part of achieving a high quality urban design and providing a buffer between the student village and residential development.
Discussions were ongoing to bring a developer on board for the student village and now that there was an approved masterplan the compulsory purchase of the remaining properties in Phases 1 and 2a could commence. Property acquisitions were now well advanced with only 18 out of 561 properties left to acquire. All acquisitions had been freely negotiated against a background of potential CPOs and reflected the market value and compensation payable under statutory compensation procedures.
The Officer outlined the process for seeking a CPO. When seeking a CPO the Council was required to establish that there were no planning impediments to the scheme and why the land was required now. The Order would be made formally in April 2017 and it would be at most a two year process with the aim of completing the CPOs by November 2018. Negotiations to acquire properties in Gresham had been ongoing for ten years and ideally the Council did not wish to have to make CPOs. The property acquisition had been an extensive programme and the funds to acquire by negotiation or CPO were in place.
Since the announcement of the scheme the Council remained convinced that the piecemeal re-development of the land would lead to a reduced standard of development and the isolation of the remaining Gresham residents. Members were shown a plan showing the properties that would be left in the area once the next phase of demolitions was undertaken. The Officer felt it was a compelling case for the acquisition of the remaining 18 properties, having due respect to peoples human rights. It was confirmed that property owners could submit an objection to the CPO and that the timescale for completion of the scheme had taken this into account. It was stressed that the Council remained committed to acquiring properties by negotiation and was legally required to do so within the CPO process.
The Chair thanked the Officers for their presentation.