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‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ - Housing estate residents give their view on proposed £113m revamp

PUBLISHED: 16:10 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:15 03 March 2020

The Middlegate Estate in Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

The Middlegate Estate in Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

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Residents on a troubled housing estate have mixed feelings about the demolition of their homes as part of a £113m council revamp.

Great Yarmouth's Middlegate estate is in line for a multi-million pound transformation Picture: Liz CoatesGreat Yarmouth's Middlegate estate is in line for a multi-million pound transformation Picture: Liz Coates

Great Yarmouth's Middlegate estate, extending from Yarmouth Way to Friars Lane, could see 301 houses demolished, 226 renovated and 284 newly-built under under 'ambitious' plans to improve living conditions for those on the Nelson Ward. This is provided a £14m funding gap can be plugged by Homes England.

But according to the council, any potential redevelopment may force residents into temporary accommodation - with some families needing to move twice.

The housing block flanking Yarmouth Way is earmarked for full-scale demolition on account of its poor thermal efficiency, however refurbishment of Southern Middlegate, where most houses have been deemed "fit for modern purpose", will concentrate mainly on breaking up monotonous architecture with open spaces.

Likewise, the two blocks that flank Tolhouse Street will see little intervention under current proposals.

The Middlegate Estate in Great Yarmouth. Photo: George RyanThe Middlegate Estate in Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

But residents themselves have expressed conflicting views on the matter, and are unclear about whether or not their home is in the council's firing line.

Wayne Edwards, who has lived on Yarmouth Way for 19 years, said that he had "no clue" what would happen to his flat, but thought that demolition of any of the buildings was a "step too far."

"It's just a waste of money. There are thousands of people who live here, and moving us all is going to cost the council a fortune", he said.

"Yes, the place is run-down and needs modernising, but there's nothing wrong with the buildings themselves. Most of us like it here.

The Middlegate estate, Yarmouth.  Photo: Nick ButcherThe Middlegate estate, Yarmouth. Photo: Nick Butcher

"I wouldn't be happy with the council kicking me out of my house. Or if they did, I'd expect to be allowed to come back. Though it seems a bit of a hassle being moved from one place to the next."

Vanessa Clark, on the other hand, who has lived on Middlegate for over 12 years, is "delighted" that the area will finally see some regeneration, and "couldn't be happier" that she might be getting moved on.

"There's five of us in the house and we've been on the council house exchange list for eight years," she said.

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"My son is autistic and he never goes out of his room because of the constant commotion, noise and anti-social behaviour.

"The house next door to ours is empty. A few people have booked in listings, but as soon as they hear the word 'Middlegate', they turn it down. Nobody wants to live here. There's too much of a drug problem.

"The council is proposing single houses and gardens - this would be perfect for my son because we would have our own space.

"There isn't anything wrong with our house itself. We just got a new boiler and kitchen. It's just a shame about the area."

The Middlegate estate, Yarmouth.  Photo: Nick ButcherThe Middlegate estate, Yarmouth. Photo: Nick Butcher

Another tenant, Barry Johnson, said the place had "really gone downhill" since he moved there in 1963.

"It used to be so lovely here. But in my block now, we've got problems with young people putting out their cigarettes on the plastic stairs and spitting down the corridor, and drug-users finding their way into the building.

"The council have been saying they will redevelop the place for years and it hasn't happened yet. I'll only believe it when I see it."

Some tenants, however, are more nostalgic about their connections to the area, and said they'd move only reluctantly.

Joanne Fisher, who lives with her five kids in a three-bedroom council house, has been on the estate for ten years.

"I love it here", she said.

"My best friend and cousin live close by, and the council have just given us a brand new bathroom and bedroom.

"There's much less anti-social behaviour than there used to be, but I suppose I wouldn't mind moving.

"As long as we've got closer access to the school, I'd be happy to go somewhere else. But if not, I think it's nice around here and I'm okay with things being as they are."


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