An ambitious £25 million-plus regeneration plan to replace “dire” housing in the Timmergreens area of Arbroath is to get under way after the “good news” scheme received the green light from councillors.
The five-year west Arbroath regeneration will see 140 houses bulldozed and replaced with around 130 new homes.
But with a major private sector project already under way at nearby East Muirlands, council chiefs say a net increase of around 60 new affordable homes will result.
Scottish Government funding of £7.5 million will be pumped into the proposal, described by town councillor David Fairweather as long overdue for the “dire” properties.
The proposals have already received overwhelming support from residents in the area and council chiefs are working on a community-based letting plan to match the needs and preferences of tenants to the new supply.
Communities committee councillors unanimously approved the plan after considering a report by head of housing Stewart Ball which confirmed that five ex-council properties sold under right to buy legislation would have to be bought back by the authority.
“It is proposed that these properties should be repurchased at an agreed value through discussion and negotiation and only in the event that this was not possible would compulsory purchase orders be sought,” said Mr Ball.
The officer said the council will take into account the circumstances of existing tenancies, including rent-payment and anti-social behaviour for the rehousing programme, as well as criteria including overcrowding and medical conditions.
“Wherever possible, community sustainability will be maintained by helping existing tenants to remain in the area.
“At this time, no particular length of tenancy will be a cut-off point, as this will be determined when all applicants have made their choices known,” added the report.
“To support the delivery of the full programme it is proposed a Timmergreens Regeneration Partnership is established, with representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including tenants and residents from the development area.”
Officials say the Arbroath plan will contribute towards the council’s new supply target of 350 units over the next five years.
Councillors say regeneration is overdue
Local councillors have hailed the multi-million pound initiative as “good news” for a part of the town described as long overdue for improvement.
Councillor Lois Speed told the committee: “I am very pleased to see this being brought forward, it’s a good news story and confirms the council’s commitment to invest a significant sum of money to replace its housing stock.
“This will see 120 new homes being constructed as part of a wider strategic programme of investment in our housing stock, with a net increase of around 60 new affordable homes.”
Ms Speed also received a promise from council strategic director Alan McKeown that residents who will be relocated under the major project will be kept closely informed of project progress each step of the way.
The first of a series of consultation meetings have been held with residents directly affected by the demolition plans and they were also invited to one-to-one meetings.
Mr McKeown said: “Support for the proposals have been very strong and of 43 households who participated in the consultation, 42 were in support of regeneration and the proposed process.”
Councillor David Fairweather said: “Many parts of this area have been a bug bear for a long time.
“These houses are well past their sell-by date and are pretty dire to be quite honest.”
He added: “I am delighted that my area has been looked at and I am sure that in the coming years when residents see what they have, compared to what they have now, that they will be absolutely delighted.
Communities committee convener, Councillor Craig Fotheringham said: “I have seen for myself the finish and technology in the houses we are building and it is quite exceptional, better in my view than some that are being offered on the open market.
“This is a very good news story for this area.”