Thousands of Milton Keynes families to swap old home for new?

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Thousands of tenants living on seven run-down estates could be given the choice of a brand new home, the Citizen can exclusively reveal.

The billion pound MK Regeneration project kicks off in July with Fuller Slade chosen as the pioneer estate.

There will be a series of meetings and workshops for residents to express their wishes – and their fears.

Many are worried they will be forced out of homes they have occupied for decades or that their community will disintegrate around them.

This week council leader Pete Marland admitted homes beyond repair could well be demolished but said all affected families will be offered new properties.

“It is even a possibility that all seven estates will be demolished entirely - but only if that is what the residents want,” he said.

MK Council has formed a partnership with Mears Group called YourMK to carry out the building work. They will start by identifying patches of land within each estate where new homes can be built.

Residents will move into these new properties either temporarily or permanently while the old homes are renovated or bulldozed.

“People will ideally be given a choice: Do they want to stay in this rundown house or would they like a brand new place just down the road?” said Pete.

He has promised that affected householder will not be “displaced” more than once.

“And we will consult with them all the way,” he said.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Council must listen to the people of Milton Keynes on regeneration update

What are the seven estates and when will their regeneration begin?

Fullers Slade, once dubbed Tinderbox Alley because of its wooden-framed houses, is the first estate. The Lakes Estate is the second, with residents consultations beginning this autumn.

Netherfield, Coffee Hall, Tinkers Bridge and Beanhill are the final four, with consultations due in 2020.

Around 50 per cent of homes on these estates are privately owned. Will the owners have to pay for the regeneration work?

If a private house is recommended for demolition, the owners could be paid a “fair” market value, said Pete Marland.

Or they could be offered a new-build on the estate as a straight swap.

If there is a case for renovation, a means test could determine how much the owner can afford to pay.

Another option could be a loan secured against the sum the works add to the value of the home.

Can owner occupiers opt out of MK Regeneration if they’re happy with their home the way it is?

Realistically, if a terrace of houses is having new roofs fitted, it would not be viable to stop and start again halfway through the terrace.

“It would probably be cheaper for YourMK just to do the lot,” admitted Pete. “We need to work out a fair solution with the people themselves.”

What will happen to the green spaces and play areas?

YourMK will try to preserve amenities.

Pete added: “We will work with the residents, not against them. There is no need to panic.”