We will fight for our homes!
DEFIANT residents fighting to keep their homes on Featherstone’s gutted Girnhill Lane estate will take their battle to a public inquiry.
The three remaining householders – Janet Greaves, Glyn Millard and Ronnie Hobson – have been locked in a feud with Wakefield Council over the sale of their homes since the first building on the estate was demolished in 2003.
They will now go before a planning inspector at Wakefield Town Hall on October 16 and 17 to dispute the council’s compulsory purchase order (CPO) which they say is forcing them out of their homes.
Mrs Greaves, who has lived on the estate with her son and husband since 1993, said the council has never offered her a “fair deal” for her property, which she says she has spent thousands of pounds improving.
She said: “I’m not in it for any money. If they can give me what I want they can have my house tomorrow.
“But why should I downsize because the council wants this land? I just want what I’ve already got. I just can’t afford to start again.
“It was last June they offered us the relocation package and a £50,000 grant. But who wants to take another mortgage out? I certainly don’t.
“If I lose, I’m going to have to move but I’m not doing it for the council. At least I can honestly walk away and say I fought for it.”
Wakefield Council served the remaining residents with the CPO in February to make way for 233 new homes on the estate, which was blighted in the 1990s by crime and anti-social behaviour.
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Developers Strata Homes made an order in March for a new road layout which included sealing off access to Mr Millard and Mr Hobson’s houses on Ashcroft Avenue.
Mrs Greaves said the new road layout may not affect her and developers could potentially build around her house, giving her a glimmer of hope
But Mr Millard, whose house on Nunns Court shares a garden with his property on Girnhill Lane, said his and Mr Hobson’s homes were still in the line of fire.
He said: “The council’s evidence document is basically saying that the new road has to go through our houses. With Janet’s house the road doesn’t go anywhere near, so she may have a chance.
“But the way I see it is they’re cutting through our houses deliberately. That was my mum and dad’s house and the garden joins to my home on Nunns Court.
“It’s my house, it’s my property, why should I let it go? It’s up to me what I do with it, it’s totally wrong and I’ll fight it.”
Mr Millard, 59, who leases his Girnhill Lane property to a private tenant, said he was disappointed the dispute had reached this stage.
He added: “I’m glad we can have our say but I’m disappointed the council has taken it this far, wasting money hand over fist to get people out of their homes.
“It’s like being taken to court for owning your own property. There’s a two day hearing and we have haven’t done anything wrong.
“I’m hoping we’re going to win. It’s just common sense to move the road a few metres so it doesn’t have to go through our houses.”
A planning inquiry is held when objections are made to a CPO. The planning inspector’s report will be considered by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, when he takes the final decision.
Andrew Wallhead, the council’s corporate director for regeneration and economic growth, said the council remained committed to negotiating an agreed settlement with the last three homeowners and relocation offers and support were still on the table.
He added: “We had expected this but are disappointed for the community as this means that the essential redevelopment of Girnhill Lane will be further delayed.
“It has always been the council’s intention to only pursue a CPO as a last resort.
“However, we are confident that we can present evidence to the planning inspector that will confirm the CPO and we will then be able to move forward with this vital part of Featherstone’s regeneration.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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