Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Big Improvement Plans for Gainsborough

The cost of bringing all homes in Gainsborough's South West Ward up to the national Decent Homes Standard has been estimated at £5.5 million.

The figure is contained in a Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment commissioned by West Lindsey District Council aimed at making improvements to the whole area.

The report says that on average each property in need of work will cost £6,300 to repair and it is envisaged that only a very small number of properties will need to be demolished - instead the emphasis is likely to be on retro-fitting existing properties to bring them up to scratch.

At a meeting of the Economic Development and Regeneration Committee, councillors agreed to take the next step towards making improvements by holding an open day with residents to discuss the options and gather local views.

Housing and Renewal Manager, Mr. Grant Lockett said:
"The consultation report confirms much of what we already thought. The area contains 1,390 homes and 75% of them are terraced with 85% built before 1919.

"Much of the area has little or no open space or play areas and there is not much in the way of off road parking.

"Sadly, the most common type of crime in the area is criminal damage and this is a common finding in areas with high levels of deprivation."
The area also suffers from high levels of unemployment (7.5% compared to the West Lindsey average of 5.9%) and it is officially the most deprived area in the district. House prices are 38% lower than the district average and 52% below the national average.

Mr. Lockett added: "
In general, local people like the area, they find it friendly with a real sense of community with good access to shops and takeaways.

"And what most people seem to be agreed on is that more green space and children's play areas would be a great boost as would a really good clean up which would improve the way people feel.

"There is quite a lot of litter in the area and when this is coupled with a large number of run down properties there is a feeling that no-one cares - which is really unfair because we believe the residents really do care."
Sadly, consultation has revealed that 50% of over 75s feel very unsafe but any idea that young people are the main 'threat' does not hold true as 35% of them said they too feel unsafe on the streets.

Chairman of the Economic Development and Regeneration Committee, Cllr. Jeff Summers, Conservative (Waddingham & Spital Ward) said that the survey had also revealed that 42% of residents were receiving benefits, 15% were disabled, 25% had an income of less than £10,000 and there is a broad range of house types and ages.

"Throughout the consultation, unemployment was a common factor and many thought this was the major contributor to many of the other issues suffered in the area. More than 70% of people thought that unemployment was a big problem.

"People told us that the main barriers to getting a job were the low number of opportunities available, poor transport links, a low skills and education base and a benefit culture which means there is little incentive for people to find work."
Another plus point was that 57% of people in the area believed the police are providing an above average service and 58% believe that the refuse collection service is above average.

But dog fouling, vandalism and the misuse of drugs were all considered to be problems and more than half the business owners felt the Council could do more to help them make improvements to commercial buildings.

In terms of the homes themselves, the survey revealed that 90% of properties would benefit from having new central heating installed. This would also improve the energy efficiency and reduce running costs to householders.

The major hazard of excess cold was found in 48% of properties, 35% had a danger of a fall on the stairs and 15% had the danger of a fall on the level. There were also major problems with electrical hazards, food safety and the presence of carbon monoxide.

As a result of all these issues, the average price of a house in the area in 2009 was £61879 - well below the national average of £160,000 and the Lincolnshire average of just under £130,000.

Cllr. Summers added:
"There is no doubt that there is much to be done in South West Ward but we believe that with the co-operation and understanding of local residents we can make real and very tangible improvements."

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