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Investigation into Townhill Park rent increase consultation
The decision to start rebuilding a Southampton estate could be put on hold over concerns residents were not properly told of how much their rents would rise.
It comes after the Daily Echo reported yesterday how council tenants claimed they had not been told that some rents could double if they were to return to live in the revamped Townhill Park estate.
As a result the chairman of the city council’s scrutiny committee, Cllr Jeremy Moulton, announced he would be calling in the decision to focus on how the consultation was carried out.
He said: “As a result of the findings in the Daily Echo it seems quite clear that these residents were not properly told of what the rent rises would be. “It would appear to go against the grain for there to be no concern over the prospect of rent levels rising to, in some cases, double the amount that they were.
“That is a matter of concern. It is likely we will call for an investigation into what happened and recommend the decision to start work on the regeneration be suspended while that it carried out.”
Meanwhile, it has been claimed that the regeneration of other housing estates in the city is being put at risk as a result of the plans to rebuild Townhill Park.
Conservative housing spokesman Peter Baillie said there would not be enough money to spend on other estates after the Labour administration decided to own the 450 homes rather than sell them off to a housing association, as in the Tories’ original plan.
Cllr Baillie said: “By buying 450 homes they are spending an extra £68m on top of what we budgeted for. That money could be spent on at least five other regeneration projects. It will take something like ten years before any project of this scale can be done again.”
However, housing boss Warwick Payne rubbished those claims, saying that work was already starting on identifying the next estate for a revamp, with Millbrook and Maybush likely to be the next to get a makeover. He said: “When we came to office the Conservatives had promised an estate regeneration programme but I found no plans, no timetable, no work whatsoever that had been done.
“Taking the approach we have in Townhill may not be right for every other estate, it may be that the community is happy with certain aspects of their estate and want to see improvements elsewhere. We will listen to what they have to say, and give them the improvements that they want.”