Residents strike deal over homes

Ronnie Hobson, Glyn Millard and former tenant Mark Millard.
Ronnie Hobson, Glyn Millard and former tenant Mark Millard.

RESIDENTS fighting to keep their homes on Featherstone’s near-derelict Girnhill Lane estate have struck a deal with Wakefield Council.

Glyn Millard, Ronnie Hobson, and Janet and Percy Greaves agreed to sell their homes during eleventh-hour negotiations with planning chiefs, signalling the end of a nine-year battle.

At a public inquiry on Tuesday at Wakefield town hall, solicitor Naeem Siraj officially withdrew all three objections to the council’s compulsory purchase order on behalf his clients.

Speaking after the inquiry, Mr Siraj said: “It’s a case of the council considering the residents’ needs and having a better understanding of those needs.

“It’s been a hard fought battle – I think they are relieved more than anything else. It’s been going on for such a long time and they were living in horrendous and intolerable conditions.

“But now we’re at the end of the tunnel, so we can move forward.”

Mr Millard and Mr Hobson agreed terms with the council last Friday and Mr and Mrs Greaves accepted an offer on Monday night.

Mr Millard, 59, told the Express he accepted a compensation package for the loss of his land on Ashcroft Avenue – which backs on to his current home on Nunn’s Court – and said Mr Hobson would receive enough money to buy one of the new homes on the estate.

Mr Millard added: “It was last minute that the council struck a deal with me and Ronnie. They came round to our way of thinking. I feel relived it’s over but a bit bitter it’s been going on for so long.”

The planning inspector heard evidence from Wakefield Council officers on the history of the site which suffered anti-social behaviour in the late 1980s.

He also heard evidence from developers Strata Homes who hope to submit a revised planning application before Christmas to reduce the number of three-storey homes in the 233-house project.

The inspector closed the inquiry after just 90 minutes and will make recommendations to the secretary of state for local communities, Eric Pickles, by the end of November.

Andrew Wallhead, Wakefield Council’s corporate director for regeneration and economic growth said: “I am pleased that we have now been able to negotiate an agreement with the remaining owners. Today marks the start of a new era for Featherstone.

“This redevelopment is absolutely essential not just for Girnhill but to protect and improve the future of the whole Featherstone community.”