Update for residents - 26th March 2024

Thank you to everyone who came to our College Bank resident event on 29th February at Hopwood Hall College. We are very grateful to everyone who came to join us and to meet our partners at Legal & General Affordable Homes (LGAH) and Lovell.

As we said at the meeting, we are committed to saving College Bank if we can bridge the funding gap. We are exploring how we can bring all the homes back into use, with all seven blocks fully refurbished and new outside space created. This would include a more efficient heating system that will be cheaper and keep your homes warm.

As part of that, we want to let you know that we have agreed to extend our exclusivity agreement with Legal & General Affordable Homes until the end of June 2024. This will enable us to continue discussions with LGAH and Lovell on the proposals and continue discussions with funding providers.   

All the information from our February event is available on this website page, and we will continue to keep our list of Frequently Asked Questions updated.

If you would like to receive this information in a different format or have any questions on the emerging proposals, please call us on Freephone 0800 027 7769 or email towncentre.regen@rbh.org.uk. We are happy to provide a printed copy for anyone who is unable to access the website.

We will hold another event for residents in late spring or early summer 2024.

A February update from RBH

  • RBH – one year on
    • We are a year into our Recovery Plan and we are making good progress.
    • We have a new Board and Executive Team who have reassessed the plans for College Bank.
    • Our intention is to focus on creating a sustainable future alongside our partners.
    • We recognise you’ve been left for too long with uncertainty about your home and the community you live in, and for that we are truly sorry.
  • Where are we now?
    • We are committed to saving College Bank if we are able to bridge the funding gap – the aim would be to bring all of the homes back into use 
    • The last 12 months have been spent working to find a way forward 
    • We identified a primary partner in Legal & General Affordable Homes
    • There are currently three main partners involved:
      • RBH owns the blocks
      • LGAH has experience in large scale regeneration
      • Lovell has a track record in delivering similar projects
  • What we're trying to achieve
    • Finding a solution that will enable retention of all the blocks at College Bank.
    • A complete modernisation of the blocks, the homes within and the surrounding spaces.
    • To future proof College Bank and bring back into use all 700 homes.
    • Create a sustainable community where people want to live.
  • Current Progress
    • We entered into an Exclusivity Agreement with Legal & General Affordable Homes (LGAH) in September 2023 to work on a viable solution.
    • This has been extended until 31st March 2024 to allow more time to fully understand the complexity and the costs.
    • The RBH Board has been fully engaged in finding a solution.
    • We are working on the total costs to refurbish.
    • There is a significant funding gap which RBH cannot afford to bridge.
    • RBH and LGAH are talking to partners across the public sector about how we can access funds to bridge the gap.
  • What could success look like?
    • All seven blocks would be fully refurbished externally
    • A re-imagined outside space created 
    • Internal refurbishment would see homes being updated to create safe, warm and affordable homes
    • The heating system will be designed to deliver a sustainable energy source – much cheaper to run than the existing outdated heating system
    • Six of the blocks would be affordable housing 
    • One block will be designated for market rent
    • Opportunity to make College Bank a national exemplar
  • How would it work?
    1. RBH would retain ownership of the blocks until refurbishment is complete
    2. Ownership would then transfer to Legal & General Affordable Homes (LGAH)
    3. At the point of transfer, your landlord would change from RBH to LGAH
      1. Current tenants would remain on the same tenancy conditions
      2. All leaseholders would retain the same lease conditions, with LGAH holding the freehold
    4. RBH would be commissioned by LGAH as Managing Agent to deliver housing management and repairs services across all seven blocks
  • What could the timeline look like?
    • April to June 2024
      • We’ll continue to assess the business case with our partners at LGAH
    • June to December 2024
      • we’ll continue to plan the project. When we’re ready, this will require a formal decision from the RBH Board
      • We’ll relocate residents from the first two blocks and start our preparation works
    • March 2025
      • If approval is given and funding secured, we could start on site with the first two blocks in the spring of 2025
  • Where next?
    • The RBH Board will continue to review the proposed business case to inform its final decision
    • On-site surveys by Lovell will help us to inform this
    • We continue to talk to partners as the funding gap becomes clearer
    • If approval is granted, we will formally consult with residents about change of landlord
    • Communication and then some more... next engagement event in Spring – early summer 2024
  • How can you help us?
    • Keep working with us and talking to us
    • The Regeneration Team is here for any queries you may have – contact them on towncentre.regen@rbh.org.uk or 0800 027 7769
    • We’ll update the Frequently Asked Questions as we receive them
    • We will provide a final decision as quickly as we can to avoid ongoing uncertainty

Frequently Asked Questions: February 2024

  • What are the next steps now the Exclusivity Agreement has been signed?

    We are working closely with Legal and General Affordable Homes (LGAH) and other key stakeholders to determine the overall scheme costs and funding arrangements, and this will continue throughout the exclusivity agreement period which has now been extended to 31st March 2024.

  • Does this mean that College Bank will definitely not be demolished?

    The ambition is to avoid demolition at College Bank and build a scheme that is sustainable and fit for the future.  This will require a significant level of funding that is beyond the capacity of RBH alone.  Until this is in place, we cannot say for sure that the project will go ahead but we are working hard with partners to understand this and explore all available funding options.

  • Why are you continuing to empty out Town Mill Brow and Mitchell Hey?

    If the works are to go ahead, two blocks will be required to be empty to enable work to start.  There are very few residents left in these two blocks, so they are the obvious choice to prioritise.  This will ensure that work can start quickly after contracts are signed and these two blocks will then be completed first and available for residents to move back.

  • Are the residents still getting the same deal as previous residents?

    The deal is being changed to reflect the changes to the project. We will continue to make disturbance payments along with financial and practical support for temporary moves, if required. Home loss payments will not apply for temporary moves within College Bank, which is the plan for any resident needing to move.

  • What if tenants still want to move away from College Bank permanently?

    Any current College Bank tenant wanting to move permanently can apply for rehousing through the Rochdale Housing Solutions website. The clearance priority for rehousing and an entitlement to a Home Loss Payment is no longer valid because the plans for College Bank no longer involve demolition.

  • Will tenants be required to move?

    Assuming the contracts are signed and the works to refurbish College Bank progress, there will be a requirement for any residents living in the first two blocks for refurbishment to move into alternative temporary accommodation. This will be within College Bank.  The first two blocks in scope are Town Mill Brow and Mitchell Hey and we have already begun discussions with individual residents regarding moves. We are doing this so that we can identify any problems areas whilst our residents are not in situ so we can iron them out as we move through the overall refurbishment.

    After that, we are planning to complete works in the remaining five blocks with residents remaining in their homes. The programme for which blocks follow on from Mitchell Hey and Town Mill Brow is still being worked on.

  • What happens if a tenant does not wish to move?

    We will need to see if it is safe for people to stay in their flats while the work is being carried out, as there will be significant disruption and noise.

  • What are the plans for leaseholders?

    The arrangements for leaseholders are specific to each household and we will discuss this with them individually.

  • What type of tenancy will I have and what will new residents have?

    Existing tenants will continue to live in College Bank under the terms of the tenancy that they hold today, and this will be preserved for as long as they live there. New tenants will need to agree to the terms of a LGAH Homes Tenancy Agreement.

  • Can we all still be members of the Society?

    Yes – the rule changes which were approved by the Membership in November 2023 ensured that all current and future tenants of College Bank can continue to be a Member of the Mutual Society.

  • When will you be starting work if the plans are approved, and funding is found?

    The RBH Board will make a decision on whether to proceed with the contract with LGAH and this will depend on the ability to fund the overall programme. Partners are in discussion with RBH around how the funding gap may be met and it’s not until this is agreed that contracts will be approved. 

    The refurbishment of all seven blocks will take around five years to complete, working on two to three blocks at a time. Residents will be engaged on timescales once this is clearer, but we do not expect works to start until early 2025. 

    There will be a significant amount of preparatory work to complete before then including moving residents in the first two blocks into their temporary homes.

  • How will the heating system work?

    There will be an energy centre that is heated through ground source heat pumps – how this works for individuals is not yet known until a system is chosen. The main objective is to give College Bank a sustainable energy source that enables residents to heat their homes comfortably for an affordable cost.

  • What happens to those who want to move back?

    If any residents who have moved in temporary accommodation in other blocks in College Bank want to return to their previous home, we would enable that.

  • Are you re-letting homes to people outside of College Bank?

    There are no plans to do this currently.

  • What will the project cost?

    The total project is projected to cost around £107m.

  • Can LGAH guarantee that they will deliver this?

    LGAH is working closely with RBH to work up a plan that is affordable and deliverable. RBH does not have the funds to deliver this project without partners including LGAH and the wider public sector.

  • Will all homes be for social rent or affordable rent?

    One of the blocks will be allocated for market rent. The remaining six will be affordable housing. For those residents with a social rent tenancy (versus affordable rent), this will be preserved should they decide to remain in College Bank.

  • What are the rent levels?

    All rents are set using the guidance issued to housing providers by the government and under the stewardship of the Regulator of Social Housing. This will continue to be the case.

We would like tenants and leaseholders to be involved as we develop these plans. If you would like to volunteer, please email us on towncentre.regen@rbh.org.uk, call Freephone 0800 027 7769, or speak to us at a consultation event.

Updates from our events in September 2023 and June 2023 remain available below for your information.

Documents from our 2023 events - for information