'They'll have to drag us out': Leeds residents vow to defy plans to flatten their homes

Residents of a former Leeds mining community have said they will have to be dragged out 'kicking and screaming' by developers who want to kick them out of their homes.

By Joe Cooper
Monday, 30th September 2019, 6:00 pm
Mavis Abbey has lived in the area for 50 years (Photo: James Hardisty)
Mavis Abbey has lived in the area for 50 years (Photo: James Hardisty)

People living on Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive in Oulton have been fighting a three-year long battle to stop developers Pemberstone Group demolishing 70 houses on the estate.The private investment firm want to replace the prefabs, built for miners in the 1950s, with 70 new homes – a mix of two, three and four bedroom properties - but only 11 would be classed as 'affordable'.

Leeds City Council is being advised to approve the plans when councillors meet on Thursday.

Mavis and Barry Abbey, an ex-mining family, have lived in the area since 1970, when the homes were owned by the National Coal Board. Rent was just £2 per week.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

70 homes in Sugar Hill Close (pictured) and Wordsworth Drive will be demolished to make way for new homes (Photo: James Hardisty).

They said the first they knew about the proposals were when flyers were dropped through their letterbox.

-> Leeds councillors fail to come to decision on demolition plans for Oulton housing estateEx-miners and their partners have a legal right to be rehoused on the new estate, but Mrs Abbey, 72, said: "We don't trust them".

"They are only interested how much money they can make," added Barry, also 72. "We are classed as peasants.

"They want us out. At this age you are just expected to die and not cause any trouble. Unfortunately I've always caused trouble."

Linda Elsworth, 69, who lives a few doors down in Wordsworth Drive, has only been in her house four-and-a-half years, and does not have the same legal protections as the Abbeys.

She fears for her future and wonders how she will find a new home within eight weeks if the plans are approved.

"I have spent most of my savings getting my house how I like it," she said. "I don't want to be moving at my age.

"I think it's atrocious the way they have treated us. It's like we're not human beings.

"It's all about money. They don't care what happens to us.

"How are we expected to find somewhere else to live in eight weeks? Nobody down here can actually afford to move anyway."

The trio have vowed to fight on if the decision goes Pemberstone's way.

"They will got to the Secretary of State to appeal no doubt, but we have irons in the fire," said Mrs Abbey.

Pemberstone claims its has little choice to demolish the homes as they fail to meet required standards and cost too much to maintain.

A spokesman said: "This proposal is a blueprint for the future. It would create modern, comfortable and highly energy-efficient homes that not only meet the planning standards but exceed

them in many respects – such as in terms of accessibility and space.

"The fact is that the current properties are not only becoming harder to maintain but also becoming less attractive for long-term occupation - a number of properties are

only occupied for relatively short periods.

"If permission is granted, the 12 tenants with the old tenancies would be entitled to stay on the estate in new, high quality, warm, accessible homes with lower energy

bills. The plan would also create 11 new housing association homes and Leeds City Council would have the power to specify that they are let to existing tenants."