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Team helps neighbours banish trouble and forge community

ASEA of boarded-up houses and rubbish-strewn gardens. That was how the Evening Gazette described the Mandale Estate in Thornaby six years ago, before a £60m regeneration scheme set about transforming the area into what proud residents now call Mandale Park.

Regeneration is at the heart of two new housing developments on Teesside. Sarah Judd discovered how Mandale Park in Thornaby, and the Trinity Court and Trinity Square projects in Hartlepool are helping to create a sense of community and pride.

ASEA of boarded-up houses and rubbish-strewn gardens. That was how the Evening Gazette described the Mandale Estate in Thornaby six years ago, before a £60m regeneration scheme set about transforming the area into what proud residents now call Mandale Park. A partnership between Stockton Council, Nomad Housing Association and Barratt Homes is providing 800 new and modern homes for sale, rent and shared ownership.

New owners are already enjoying their homes in the first and second phase of the project.

And such has been its popularity that a number of houses in the third phase, which is currently under construction, were sold before a single brick had been laid.

The scheme has involved the demolition of 578 poor quality properties, which are being replaced with 800 new, high quality attractive homes.

A £1m park, including football pitches, public art and cycle ways, will also provide wide-ranging recreational facilities for the new community.

But most important, the estate has regenerated a formerly rundown, undesirable area of Teesside to make it one of the more sought after, up-and-coming places to own an affordable family home.

Nomad properties cannot be distinguished from the private homes, in the hope a truly mixed community will be created.

And according to Stockton Council, the layout of the development allows defensible space to be created, giving people a sense of ownership and creating a safe community.

The Mandale ward lies within the worst 10% of deprived wards nationally.

After a demand study in 2001, major demolition and redevelopment were thought to be the only solutions to bring about lasting improvement.

The regeneration objectives included strong community involvement from current homeowners and tenants, as well as the creation of jobs and apprenticeships for the people of Mandale.

Both were achieved, with seven 16- to 17-year-olds from the estate being employed on a contractor training programme, and the scheme attracting residents to Mandale Park.

People already living in the area have been able to play an active role in the design and decision-making through consultation events with the Thornaby Regeneration Partnership and Mandale Community Influence Group.

The estate has demonstrated a strong community spirit throughout the project. And it seems that commitment is paying off. In 2001, there was a high level of benefit dependency on the estate but in 2006, nearly 60% of households who had bought a new home there earned over £30,000. A quarter earned over £40,000.

In 2001, properties on the estate were selling for an average of £13,500.

But since the regeneration started, Haslam Homes and Barratt Newcastle have been selling properties for an average of £130,000 and £172,973 respectively, based on figures from 2006.

The estate was also one of four projects in the UK to be shortlisted in the Housing Led Project of the Year category of the inaugural Regeneration and Renewal Awards.

Meanwhile, the first people living on a multi-million-pound housing estate in Hartlepool are also enjoying their new homes.

Some 347 houses in the Mildred and Mayfair Street areas of Hartlepool were demolished to clear the way for the Yuill Homes development, Trinity Court and Trinity Square.

As at Mandale Park, the work was carried out in consultation with residents, who had campaigned for the project to breathe new life into the community and improve the choice of new homes in the town.

The initial phase of work to transform a rundown area of terraced housing off Hart Lane into a thriving new community has been completed, with 13 bungalows now occupied on the former Angus Street site.

When the development is finished, over five years, Yuill will have created 155 smart one-, two- and three-bedroom homes for sale, as well as the Endeavour bungalows. Alexandra Ross, of Hartlepool Revival, said: “We have reached an important milestone in this exciting regeneration initiative and are delighted to welcome back both new and former residents into the area.

“This is just the first stage of a plan that will create new, stronger communities and bring this once declining area back to life.”

Hartlepool Revival was established in 2003 to drive the New Deal for Communities (NDC) Community Housing Plan in Hartlepool.

The plan was voted for by local people to tackle the decline parts of the area had suffered.

This included the proposals to acquire, demolish and replace more than 300 older terraced houses with modern family homes that now form Trinity Court and Trinity Square.

Four years on, much of the work of the resident-led organisation has been completed or is well under way, with houses being built, environmental improvements flourishing and new communities developing.

Thanks to close working relationships and support from local people, Hartlepool Revival acquired 335 out of 347 properties on the site by agreement.

People were offered a great deal of support during their move from the area and were given first priority to move back into the development once it had been completed.

Homeowners were also offered Homeswaps in which residents could identify a like-for-like property in another NDC area that wasn’t
under the proposals and Revival would
support them to move out of their current property into their new home. Homeswap properties were also improved by Revival and NDC.

After a competitive tendering process, Yuill Homes was chosen as the developer of the site and set working alongside Encia Demolition to clear the sites ready for regeneration.

The biggest milestone so far has been the formation of a new community.

And people have started to move into their new properties – including 13 rented bungalows, built in partnership with Endeavour Housing Association.

Alan Jones and his wife Christine were among the first to receive the keys to their new home.

Mr Jones said: “I am over the moon about the bungalow and can only have praise for what they have done.

“It is lovely and we have enjoyed moving into this new community with the support of Endeavour Housing Association and Hartlepool Revival.”

Endeavour Housing group chief executive Charlie Hughes said: “Endeavour is enormously pleased to have played a significant part in enabling long-term residents of the area to remain in their neighbourhood and have the benefit of far better housing.”

Yuill Homes is now preparing to release more houses for sale well ahead of plans.

Trinity Court development sales manager Kim Anderson said: “People are really excited to see the changes being made in the area and there’s a real buzz in the community as this new neighbourhood begins to form.” Hartlepool Revival and NDC are also proud of the effort to improve a once declining area. Hartlepool NDC programme director Malcolm Walker said: “The fact that local residents showed their support for this regeneration scheme from the outset has been the ultimate key to its success.

“Yes, there have been periods of frustration, but we have come through that with a successful regeneration project that will not only provide modern homes, but will boost the area as a whole.”

Local resident and Hartlepool Revival board chairman Maurice Brazell said: “The positive changes that this development has brought to the area have been astounding.

“The decision to undertake this massive regeneration project wasn’t taken lightly and residents were consulted at every level.

“We have made some difficult decisions, but local people can be proud of what they are seeing today – new homes being built, new communities being developed and the buzz that this project brings.”

And thanks to the joint effort by Yuill Homes, Hartlepool Revival Endeavour Housing and the people of Hartlepool, the Trinity Square and Trinity Court developments are breathing new life into an area that suffered previously from anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood nuisance.

It is hoped the development will create a thriving community, where people work together to strengthen the area and make it a place where families want to live for generations to come.

 

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