Decision looms on regeneration cash for stalled housing scheme

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REGENERATION planners in Hull will find out within weeks if a bid for millions of pounds of Government funding is successful, triggering major investment in one of the city’s most rundown neighbourhoods and potentially creating hundreds of jobs.

Ministers are expected to decide at the end of the month whether to release £8m which has provisionally been allocated from the Regional Growth Fund.

The city council said it is in the final stages of negotiations with the Government over the funding, which would secure the next phase of regeneration in the Hawthorn Avenue area of West Hull.

If that figure is realised, the council would put in about £9m, but the major commitment would come from the authority’s development partner Keepmoat, which would spend £118m on a house building programme in the area.

As well as providing a welcome boost for residents - many were left in limbo when funding for the city’s Gateway housing renewal scheme was scrapped in October 2010 following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review - the project would create a significant jobs boost for the city.

The council said 839 private sector jobs would be created, along with 95 private sector apprenticeships.

The authority is also seeking about £70m of funding through the Private Finance Initiative to build “extra care” housing in the Hawthorn Avenue area.

In a joint statement with Keepmoat Homes, the council said: “We are in the final stages of negotiation with the Government for the release of funding, after which the timetable of works will be confirmed.

“We continue to work closely with residents, providing advice and guidance, to help them make the most of this exciting new scheme in the NaSA (Newland and St Andrews wards) area.

“We look forward to proceeding with the planned improvement and demolition works in the Hawthorn Avenue area, to continue the planned major regeneration of the area, which already includes high quality new build homes, for the benefit of residents and the city.”

A total of 1,338 new “eco-efficient” homes will be built, while improvements are carried out to a further 137.

The new homes will be put on the market for sale and “affordable” rent, the council said.

However, some properties which had been earmarked for demolition will instead be refurbished because of the public spending squeeze.

The council said: “When confirmed, this funding will allow the next phases of regeneration to start in the Hawthorn Avenue area. However, with less money available some planned clearance work will not happen, and (the area) will instead benefit from frontage improvements.

“In addition, the bid will only fund work in one part of the Newington St Andrew’s neighbourhood. However, we are pursuing other options and funding streams for other parts of NaSA.

Residents in the Hawthorn Avenue, Pretoria Street and White Street areas are meanwhile being invited to see and discuss proposed improvements to their homes at events today and tomorrow.

The properties will be developed by Frank Haslam Milan, and staff will be on hand to discuss the details at 200 Hawthorn Avenue from 2pm to 7pm today, and from 10am to 2pm tomorrow.

In December, residents on the Ings estate in East Hull learned they face nearly a year’s wait for a developer to be appointed to continue a housing programme ravaged by Government cuts.

This followed a Government announcement that it was giving £3.3m, half the money the council had asked for, towards continuing work on the estate.

Householders were left surrounded by boarded up housing and living in fear of arson attacks, as well as being plagued by vandalism, burglaries and fly-tipping.

The council is putting in £7.1m match-funding to restart the regeneration scheme.