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Government-approved housing plans leave tenants of 70 former miners’ homes facing eviction

TENANTS of 70 former miners’ homes in Yorkshire face eviction and homelessness after the government approved a developer’s plans to demolish and replace the estate with luxury housing.

The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) has over-ridden a decision by Labour-controlled Leeds Council to refuse permission to Worcester-based investment firm Pemberstone to demolish the estate.

The houses are at Oulton, outside Leeds in West Yorkshire, and were built by the publicly owned National Coal Board in the 1950s as homes for miners at the nearby Rothwell Colliery.

Along with tens of thousands of other coal miners’ homes, they were sold to the private sector through the Tory privatisation of the coal mining industry.

Pemberstone, a ground rent speculator, ended up acquiring the Oulton Estate and three years ago sought planning permission to demolish the homes and replace them with “executive” housing with prices far beyond the means of the tenants.

Tenants campaigned against the plan and were backed by the Save Our Homes LS26 social housing movement and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Campaigner Cindy Readman has lived on the estate for 15 years and brought up three children there. She and her husband now face eviction.

“We have had the decision from the inspector which is not totally unexpected,” she told the Morning Star today.

“Planning law always seems to favour the developer. 

“The inspector seems to agree with Pemberstone that our houses have come to the end of their lives and are not worth doing up, which is a lot of tosh honestly. These are our homes.

“At the moment it will mean Pemberstone issuing eviction notices so they can have a vacant plot and build what they want.

“They have to evict us in phases but I wouldn’t put anything past them.”

Of the 70 houses, 10 are occupied by former mining families, 14 are empty and there are 46 other tenants.

“It leaves about 40 families looking for new homes,” said Ms Readman. 

“The council has already told us that the housing waiting list is mega. It’s something like three years for a house in this area. Meanwhile we’ll have to go into temporary accommodation.

“Some of the houses are already empty. Pemberstone owns them. Fourteen are empty because they wouldn’t re-let them and they just let them decay.”

NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen told the Morning Star: “It’s another step in wiping out the history of the coal mining industry in Britain.

“Those houses were built for the community because it had the pit at Rothwell. 

“It is totally immoral that public money was put into providing housing, just for a private developer to come and cash in.

“I’ve spoken to ex-miners on the estate. Some of them have put 20 years into creating their gardens.

“I’m devastated. These are decent people, with a real community spirit. Their community is going to be decimated, just to make money.”

A spokesman for Pemberstone said: “We are pleased with the outcome of the appeal and its recognition that the plans represent the most realistic and sustainable option for the future of Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close.

“We are now reviewing the situation and will be carefully considering future plans in the coming weeks and months.”

The DHCLG have been asked to comment.

To donate to the tenants’ legal costs, visit: mstar.link/minershomes

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