There are times in this role of being a City Councillor in Wednesfield, that the ‘nitty gritty’ of the job kind of gets to you.
Almost every day you get people who need help coming to you. Sometimes the help is something you can muster easily. Other times the help is harder to find, and then you often have the case that is almost impossible to crack!
It’s this latter variety that catches me, and even after all these years serving the people of Wednesfield, I sometimes end up doubting why I am butting a brick wall.
Housing is the hardest issue of the lot, and all City Councillors will have a long list of people who want a good sound home. Finding or assisting families into homes is so very hard to do. It is without doubt demoralising for all involved, when the homes are difficult to find or identify.
If I didn’t care then I wouldn’t feel like I do! But the truth is that I want to do this Councillors role because I want to make change for the better, that was why I first stood all those years back in 1981- I wanted to make change happen then and I want to see change for the good happen now, here in this community that I live in.
That is why when you have a little success and you get a ‘Thank You’ back from someone you helped – it is so darned up lifting! This week I have received a couple of ‘Thank You ‘ messages, and whilst it’s not taken the constituents long to write those words, the impact has been very up-lifting for me.
Housing issues are so very hard to fulfil these days, because in the main we do not have enough vacant Council Housing here in Wednesfield North, not like we had when the estate was first built in the 1950’s. Most of that particular stock has been sold, and yet the demand for homes here is still so very great.
Earlier in the week I was involved in a debate with friends about homes in Wednesfield North.
Around 80% of Council homes for instance on Ashmore Park, which was once in the ownership of the City Council, have been sold through the ‘Right to Buy ‘ scheme. The debate I was having was around the fallacy – that the only homes people wanted on Ashmore Park/ Wednesfield North were Council housing stock .
That is a myth! There are people who still want to own a home of their own, and they want to buy them in here in Wednesfield.
The evidence is those facts we all know drives home sales. Families want to live in a community that has all the important assets that modern families want. Home Buyer’s want Good quality homes, good health care, good transportation links, good schools, access to the countryside, good shopping and retail, plus access to leisure activities, and a safe place to bring up a family. Wednesfield ticks all those boxes and supplies all of those needs!
What we do not have here in Wednesfield is a continuous supply of ‘greenfield sites’ in fact there is really no land that falls into that category. We do however still have small ‘Brownfield’ sites that may provide for some of our housing needs.
We are being strongly encouraged by Government to build homes, as part of the Black Country Core Housing Strategy. The City of Wolverhampton Council has a target of 13,400 homes to be built between 2006 and 2026.
Our housing sites here in Wednesfield North are tiny in size. But every home built does matter.
- There are around 33 new homes that have been built in Wednesfield North over the last few years. They have been for private sale often on disused garage sites, and a former Public House site. All of the homes were sold and were lived in very quickly.
- There is a large demand from people who want to live in Wednesfield, or return to bring their family up in Wednesfield. This also fuels the private sale process.
- Currently there are more bungalows being built for private sale in Bayliss Avenue, and as the construction work nears completion. I am sure the local private developer will be looking to his next development!
We shouldn’t knock this type of development though as it often rids neighbourhoods of scruffy parcels of land that have anti social behaviour issues. Besides the construction companies provide local jobs, and once the land has a home on it. Then its resident becomes a contributors to local tax which is used to provide our civic services.
Currently the City Council and Wolverhampton Homes are undertaking a review of even more garage sites and infill sites across the City to establish their potential for future housing. WCC and WH have identified the following sites, which is within our Wednesfield North Ward, as showing potential for small site development.
- Nearing completion is a former garage site located at Bayliss Avenue . The private contractor has built bungalows for private sale.
- Also being looked at in the Wolverhampton Homes plans for the next stage of the development Is to carry out further work on a disused former garage site in Whiston avenue.
Wolverhampton Homes are carrying out a number of surveys here to establish ground conditions, levels details and ecological issues. This work is to be carried out over the next few months, in the meantime Wolverhampton Homes have assured me that they will also be informing the neighbouring properties advising of the proposed work and to provide contact details in case of any queries.
This Whiston Avenue development when it gets worked into a planning application however will contain new Council Housing, and that will if it is completed, help bring more affordable housing into our Ward.
The new housing development on the former Danesmore Park School site is also being worked up and Planning permission has recently been granted. This is a bigger development than the garage site arrangements, and it will contain both private ‘for sale’ build, and affordable homes under the Wolverhampton Homes organisation, and the City Councils new House building company WV1Living .
- WV Living has unveiled exciting designs of its first houses to be built in the City of Wolverhampton.
The 7 types of homes – The Pelham, The Bantock, The Moseley, The Wightwick, The Newbolt, The Hayward and The Leveson – have been named after popular landmarks and famous people associated with the city.
They will be showcased at the City Housing Fair, at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street, WV1 1DU, on Sunday 2 April, between 11am and 3.30pm.
Work on the first phase of WV Living homes is set to start this summer, with planning permission now granted for 52 units, including 13 affordable homes, on the site of the former Danesmore School.
The names of the new developments have been chosen to reflect connections to the local area.
The former Danesmore School site will be called ‘Danesmore Pastures’, the former Ettingshall School site will be branded ‘Sweet Briary’, and the Prouds Lane former Leisure Centre site will be called ‘Peascroft’.
A mixture of 4 bedroom, 3 bedroom and 2 bedroom houses, and 2 bedroom flats will be built across the sites.
WV Living has plans for almost 400 homes to be built in the next 2 years. This will support the overall house building programme in the City of Wolverhampton.
This development on the former school site in Ashmore Park Russell Close, will be marketed as ‘Danesmore Pastures.’
A ground condition survey has been carried out in Peach road on redundant Car parks on the Wyvern Park estate, and the results show that the sites are suitable for development.
Wolverhampton Homes tell me that they are now working with an architect to draw up some layout plans, which will be shared prior to any planning applications being made by the housing organisation.
I have requested further consultation and received a response from WH which states that “We will also write out again to the neighbouring properties once we have the layout plans, again prior to any planning application.
Finally planning permission was granted for the supported housing development on Barnard Road. Voyage Care is the developer and the Contractor commenced groundworks on the 13th February 2017.
I opposed the Planning Application originally as I thought, and still think the overall plan for this site was two units too big. But it went to Planning Committee and was passed. I spoke at the Planning Committee against the planning proposal argued my case which was concern about drainage, the plans being too large, and argued that there should be more car parking spaced inside the curtilage of the building. The Planning committee accepted the arguments over the parking, but not the other parts of the case I made. The Planning application was given a permission, There will be 14 one bedroom and two bedroom supported living apartments in this development. If anyone wants to contact Voyage Care then the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org