STOCKTON TOWN CENTRE: Bungalows backed despite underground troubles
A HOST of bungalows for older people will replace a demolished set of flats in Stockton despite underground troubles uncovered by engineers.
Elm House was knocked down in 2019 as parts of efforts to regenerate the former Victoria Estate in the town centre.
A total of 14 rented bungalows have been lined up to replace the former YMCA building next to the new 143-home Sycamores Estate.
But Stockton Council reports have revealed troubles in the foundations of the former five-storey block of flats have pumped up remediation costs – meaning cash needs to be found from elsewhere.
Authority chiefs are seeking extra money from the Government’s “Brownfield Fund” to meet this gap – and they’re confident this will rectify the problems.
Council leader Cllr Bob Cook said social housing provider Thirteen couldn’t meet the costs of remediating the land.
“It was going to cost a lot more to build there – even though it’s a small site,” he added.
“But we’re going to use the brownfield site money through the Government designed to bring sites back into use.
“It’s met all the criteria and we’re hopeful we will get some money from that so we’re able to build the 14 bungalows.”
Council leaders approved the new bungalow vision at a cabinet meeting on Thursday (January 21).
Finance director Garry Cummings said it had been a “particularly difficult” site with significant remediation work required.
But he explained how authority teams had worked to expand the council’s joint venture with Keepmoat Homes to keep the low rise plan on track.
Cllr Nigel Cooke, cabinet member for regeneration, said the project would bring much-needed bungalows to the town.
“The site’s had its challenges but I don’t think anyone will regret pulling down the building which was there,” he added.
“This allows us to move on with a trusted partner and produce something really good.”
The council has a joint partnership with Keepmoat Homes to build the nearby Sycamores Estate.
Reports revealed the bungalow plan has been added to this agreement to allow Keepmoat to start work on the site before April.
A “registered housing provider” has also confirmed they will buy up the 14 homes once they’re built.
Cllr Cook told colleagues the new bungalows would be close to doctor’s surgeries, shops, bus routes and leisure facilities in the town centre – adding the council aimed to bring more “town centre living” back to the borough.
Ahead of the meeting, the Labour leader believed it would be a good area for elderly people to live.
Cllr Cook added: “We did look at an elderly village at the former Victoria Estate but the costs didn’t stack up – so at least we’re getting some elderly person’s bungalows alongside what Keepmoat will build.”
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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