Handover of Wellingborough community assets to housing association plans put back for community consultation

The Penrith Drive Children's Centre building is on the handover list.
The Penrith Drive Children's Centre building is on the handover list.

Plans to hand over a number of Wellingborough’s community assets, including green space and community centres, to a housing association have been put on hold for more community discussion.

Councillors were due to make a decision on the proposal to hand over assets worth millions to Greatwell Homes, but at the meeting last Wednesday (Sept 25) leader Martin Griffiths said the matter would be postponed.

Details of the plans were only made public five days before the meeting, with some affected organisations only finding out about the plans through the grapevine.

The Conservative-run council is proposing to hand over the assets to the housing association in a bid to cut down current confusion as to which assets are owned by the council and which are owned by the housing association.

Under the proposals the not-for-profit organisation, which took over the bulk of the council’s housing stock and assets in 2007, would take on responsibility for the large backlog of repairs. The council would not receive any payment for the assets.

At the meeting Cllr Griffiths deferred the report but made a statement which said the proposal would enable Greatwell Homes to deliver more affordable homes. He also said the transfer would allow the assets to be maintained to the standards of Greatwell Homes which are ‘superior’ to Welingborough Council standards.

He said: “Greatwell Homes are fully committed to working with the communities they serve and of course the community groups on the Hemmingwell, Queensway, and Swanspool wards as they play a very important role in achieving community cohesion.

“Greatwell Homes have no intention whatsoever of changing the use of the income-generating assets provided the leases are upheld.”

He said he was deferring the report to allow dialogue with the residents groups which he was sure would allay community concerns. There would also be a public meeting.

Two members of the public who had come to speak were told if they spoke at the meeting they would not under Wellingborough Council rules be allowed to speak on the matter at the next meeting. They chose not to address the meeting.

Leader of the opposition Cllr Andrew Scarborough said the proposal could remove ‘chaos and squalor’ from parts of the Queenway ward he represented and said it was something the authority needed to do. He said he did support the deferral if the extra month could gain greater community support for the proposal.

The full list of assets that could be transferred to Greatwell Homes are: four houses in Windsor Road, 20 garages in Lea Way, 41 garages in Arthur Street, seven garages in Rydall Mount, three shops in Swinburne Road, two shops in Nest Farm Crescent plus the community centre and former pub, a former sports field in Nest Farm Lane, car parks in Knox Road and Winstanley Road and the children’s centre in Windermere Drive.

The matter will be discussed at the next resources meeting in October.