What's it like living on Yarmouth's Middlegate estate?
PUBLISHED: 18:07 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 18:11 20 November 2018
An historic Great Yarmouth housing estate is in line for a multi-million pound makeover which will improve housing for more than 1,000 people and hopefully build new homes for a few more.
As officials reveal there may be even more money in the pot to achieve the ambitious transformation Liz Coates meets some of the people who live there today and finds out about life on the once award-winning Middlegate estate.
Andrew Wilson has lived in Clarendon Close for so long he knows it is six minutes to the seafront and eight to Yarmouth Market Place.
He is 84 and speaks in a broad Scottish accent that has lost none of its twang in the 46 years he has lived on the estate.
“I quite like it here,” he says. “At times it is a bit noisy and boisterous, but you are going to get that with any housing scheme.
“I have no fears about coming out at night. I have always felt safe.
“I have lived here since 1972 and have never really wanted to move.”
Mr Wilson, a former nurse, raised his two sons on the estate and says new people coming in have changed the character of the estate but then as a Scot he regards himself as an in-comer too, so can’t really complain.
Overall he says: “I enjoy living here. It’s nice, there’s lots of things happening.”
He hasn’t taken too much notice of the council’s redevelopment plans because he didn’t think they affected his side of Nottingham Way, but isn’t sure.
Further along Stefania Shearwood is walking her neighbour’s dog Daisy.
Asked how she likes living in Nottingham Way, she answers without hesitation: “I absolutely detest it,” she says.
“Not many people in the hall ways clean up after themselves,” she says, adding: “They are always letting rubbish into the front gardens.”
The other day she and her elderly neighbour, who is in his 90s, had to do battle with a huge adult rat amid fears it could bite the dog or even a child.
Despite asking, no-one official came to take the body away and they covered it with a biscuit tin in the garden.
Most people, she said, were fairly neighbourly but it would be better if more stepped up.
She knew people’s routines and would check on people if lights weren’t turned on by a certain time or curtains closed when they should be.
Years ago as part of an earlier improvement scheme she had been given just a few weeks’ notice to leave so wasn’t overly confident in how things might be handled, even though she had been there for 18 years.
MORE: Options to regenerate housing estate being explored
In Middlegate a mum is striding along with a buggy. She is on her way to an appointment and can’t stop but is happy talk about how much she likes living here.
She lives with her mum and her toddler daughter and has lived in two addresses on the estate over the years.
She is 34 and has good friends and neighbours.
Recently an old man fell over and everyone rallied to help. Another neighbour asked if she could see her child born, which she thought was taking the friendship a bit too far but nice all the same that they were that close.
Most people are happy to stop, although not all of them speak English so we don’t always get very far.
Generally people say they like the area and have no problems.
Councillor Andy Grant, chairman of the housing and neighbourhoods committee, who has been involved in the consultation sessions said all the feedback the council had received was “really positive” adding he expected more people would be “up in arms” but in fact there was a real sense of excitement.
Nothing he said was set in stone and in fact it looked as if more money could be available for the project after the borrowing cap was lifted in the latest budget meaning the council could build more homes.
He said: “In 2004 they built up people’s expectations but then the funding was withdrawn and it created animosity.
“This time round we will be doing something.”
Of the 551 properties built in the 1950s around 10pc were sold under the right to buy act.
The estate comprises mainly three storey buildings with a ground floor flat and three-bedroom homes above.
Allocating them has been a problem and some are empty.
It is hoped a final vision will be presented to residents by early 2019 at the latest.
Concept images show one side of Middlegate demolished with some taller blocks added on a more meandering layout.
Dorset Close is among areas potentially earmarked for new housing for sale or rent to bring in “windfall.”
A total rebuild was ruled out because residents didn’t want it and also because of the town’s low house prices.