Residents facing eviction due to plans to demolish 70 Leeds home protest in city centre

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Residents and protesters facing eviction from their homes due to plans to demolish 70 homes gathered in Leeds City Centre this afternoon to protest.

Around 30 members of Save Our Homes LS26 and Leeds Sisters Uncut gathered and chanted 'people before profit, Leeds Council you can stop it'.

The protest today.

The protest today.

Pemberstone (Oulton Properties Ltd) has applied for planning permission to demolish 70 homes in Oulton but a final decision was deferred last month by city planners following a meeting that was packed out with objectors to the scheme.

Leeds Sisters Uncut, are leading the fight and say they "demand that Leeds City Council rejects this planning permission and stands up to big business, for the people and the environment".

Plans were aired more than two years ago to demolish the homes on Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive and replace them with 70 new ones.

Plans show 11 properties would be classed a "affordable".

The protest in Leeds City Centre today.

The protest in Leeds City Centre today.

The houses were built to house coal miners following nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 and date back to the 50s.

Pemberstone argues that they are outdated and beyond economical repair.

Cindy Readman has been a resident of one of the properties planned to be demolished for over ten years.

She said the plans will have a huge impact on "hundreds of people".

The protest today.

The protest today.

Cindy said: "There are 70 homes in Oulton which used to be ex-mining houses.

"They are now owned by a private housing company called Pemberstone.

"We found out about 18 months ago they were putting in planning permission to demolish the whole estate and build new homes to sell.

"The houses are mostly still occupied.

"We have had so much support.

"Right from day one we were involved."

Cindy said they were invited to a consultation in December 2017 after having a flyer put through their door.

She added: "We asked what was to become of us?

"They just shrugged their shoulders.

"We still don't have much information.

"There are 11 residents who are still ex-miners who have protected tenancies so they said they would rehouse those.

"The rest of us, we just don't know."

John, Cindy's husband, said he was horrified when he originally read the plans.

He said: "It is profit before people.

"They are picking on the lowest income people and the elderly who have very little options in life so they can make a fast buck.

"The leaflet just came with other leaflets, pizza flyers and other leaflets and I was absolutely horrified.

"There was no indication this was going to happen."

Hazel Field, a resident of over a decade, said she believed over 200 people would be affected if the plans are approved.

She added: "There are elderly people aswell.

"You are talking about moving some people in their 70s out of their homes.

"The council have said we can have temporary accomodation but it would be out of the area.

"We can't afford to put our belongings in storage or our pets in kennels.

"Why should we have to leave our pets and belongings behind to live in a hotel or bed and breakfast?"

There have also been objections to the scheme from councillors, MPs, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Leeds Civic Trust among others.

Leeds Civic Trust said: "The houses represent the largest number of externally unaltered post war “Airey” homes remaining in the UK and as such must be regarded as a rare group of non-designated heritage assets of both local and national significance.

"The surviving estate constructed by the National Coal Board in the 1950s shows no sign of structural defect but their group value, pleasant location and settled community represents a fitting legacy and tribute to a major Leeds industrialist whose pioneering house design and construction method helped Britain recover during the post war period."

Rothwell councillor and Leeds Liberal Democrats leader Stewart Golton branded the development “social cleansing".