Work starts on £113m revamp of estate

by Howard Williamson

CHANGES have started on the run-down Swarcliffe estate in east Leeds which is undergoing a 113m transformation.

It is the first of a series of Leeds regeneration projects costing about 2bn over the next three decades.

And Coun Les Carter, executive member with responsibility for the Swarcliffe scheme, says lessons learned from it will help other Public Private Finance Initiatives in the city.

Swarcliffe estate, built mostly in the 1960s, has been changed significantly with the demolition this year of three high rise tower blocks – Pennwell Croft, Ashtree Court and Langbar Grange.

This was achieved with the use of giant demolition plant spanning 50m and reaching the height of 11 double decker buses.

Rubble

Some 20,000 tonnes of rubble was excavated - 80 per cent of which has been recycled.

Unpopular maisonettes are being pulled down; and council homes are being improved with the fitting of new windows, doors, kitchens, bathrooms, central heating systems and electrical wiring.

Affordable homes will be built for sale or for rent.

Coun Carter, pictured, said: “Every day people in Swarcliffe are seeing changes to the area. We accept there will be temporary inconvenience but we do ask people to bear with us as the project will significantly improve their lives.

“We are listening to local people and working with contractors to ensure we deliver improvements in the least disruptive way.”

The building work, however, has not pleased some councillors who are calling on contractors to “get their act together.”

Cross Gates and Whinmoor councillors Paulene Grahame, Peter Gruen and Suzi Armitage have demanded that they improve the speed and quality of their work.

The councillors have written to the Director of Neighbourhoods and Housing, Neil Evans, to express their disappointment with progress so far.

Coun Grahame said: “Residents in the first package of work have suffered intolerable delays and poor quality workmanship. They are stressed out with having workmen in and out of their homes for months on end.”

Coun Gruen said: “We are calling for a suspension of any new work until the current packages are completed to everyone’s satisfaction. We still have work outstanding in the Dennils from over 12 months ago.

“Workmen are ignoring appointments they have made and are causing havoc with residents’ day-to-day lives.”

Coun Armitage said: “Enough is enough. We have given the contractors plenty of scope and they have failed. It is high time drastic action was taken by the directors of the consortium.”