TENANTS of a Southampton estate are angry over a controversial decision to pay them a four-figure sum to hasten a major regeneration project.

Residents of Townhill Park, currently undergoing a £100m regeneration, claim that Southampton City Council has neglected them after consulting on a new set of proposals that will see tenants offered more than £5,000 each to leave their properties early.

Kim Ayling, chair of the SO18 Big Local community group, was angry about the offer: “It’s absolutely shocking, the council have gone behind our backs and not even told us about this decision made by Cabinet last week.

“All the council want to do is to squeeze this project through without regular communication to local residents.”

Clive Armour, a driving instructor, formerly of Meggeson Avenue, described the council’s actions as a “disgrace”.

He said: “What is going on here? It is completely unacceptable that the council treats tenants like this.

“The properties in Meggeson Avenue are in a dreadful state, how can they be offering an ultimatum after a council meeting that residents weren’t even given the chance to attend.”

Mr Armour added: “My son CJ approached the council and was told he would not even get a payout until it was one month after he moved out of the property meaning he would have to foot the bill for his own storage fees.”

The Echo reported last week that hundreds of council tenants could be paid more than £5,000 to leave their properties early in a bid to push forward the long-delayed scheme under the plans put forward by the council as 292 properties are set to be demolished.

Tenants would also receive an additional enhanced payment for leaving early, although it is unclear at the moment how much that would be. Leaseholders will be given the chance to reach an agreement to sell.

Jo Proctor, pictured inset, chairman of the Townhill Park Community Association, said the council has been misleading.

She said: “I have spoken to a few residents and they are concerned that the council has not even informed the residents publicly about this – only a few know about what the council has been up to.”

Denise Wyatt, leader of Southampton Independents and spokesperson on housing added: “The Labour council has utterly failed to deliver its regeneration of Townhill Park. Labour is now trying to change its policy because it has failed. All they have delivered is anger and confusion for residents and the Townhill Park Community Association are spot on with their comments – poor communication and a lack of action leads to speculation and distress.

“These are people’s homes we are talking about.”

In a statement, the council said: “Tenants will be assessed for the housing needs at the point of relocation, in line with Southampton City Council’s allocations policy, and will qualify for a property in line with their needs.

“There is no statutory right to return for tenants to a site that has been redeveloped. However, if certain circumstances are met and suitable properties are available, tenants may be offered the right to return.

“Tenants will be compensated for the disturbance and loss of their home at least in line with statutory amounts.”

The £100m scheme will see 665 new houses built which civic chiefs say will be completed by 2028.