Outcry fails to halt properties sell-off

Councillor Kiran Mulholland
Councillor Kiran Mulholland
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AN idyllic housing estate has been sold despite residents’ objections and fears about future development.

Members of Fylde Council had argued they did not have enough information to sanction the deal to dispose of Lytham’s Melton Grove, which is set to net the council £1.375m.

But a majority of just one vote saw the sale agreed, with local developer Windmill Homes now set to take over the 20 bungalows.

And Coun Albert Pounder – who was also a director of Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association, which owned the homes on the council’s behalf – told the meeting the sale was in the best interests of residents.

He said: “At no stage have the tenants not been considered.

“Those tenants who have expressed concern, their houses are held in perpetuity. There is no danger any of the tenants will not be tenants in the future unless they themselves choose to move.”

Under the terms of the sale five bungalows could be redeveloped as private housing while the remaining 15 will be social rented housing, with six of those properties allocated for people with special needs.

But Coun Liz Oades said “very little clarity” had been given to her questions about the sale, and there was not enough information for councillors to make the decision.

The meeting also heard the offer made by Windmill Homes was considerably more than was offered by registered social landlords.

But there were concerns over whether the council will be able to control what happens on the estate after the sale.

Coun Kiran Mulholland (pictured) said: “It worries me we are doing so well out of the sale in comparison to the registered social landlords.

“It’s a very attractive area, make no bones about it, nobody is offering over the odds for no reason. They will make the money and someone will pay in the long-term. Development Control will have its hands tied and that’s a real worry.”

And Coun Kevin Eastham added: “You can’t control these areas through planning – permitted development could destroy the whole of what you see there.”

The full council was given the chance to debate the issue after Coun Trevor Fiddler’s decision to give the sale the go ahead was ‘called-in’ by his fellow councillors.

He told the meeting the situation – with tenants’ rights protected – was “win-win” for the council and residents.

Several residents from Melton Grove cheered when the deal went through, but the estate’s residents association – who claim to represent more than half the 25 tenants – have vowed to continue to fight the sale.

Emma Duffy, the association’s spokeswoman, said: “We’re not giving up. The residents want the fight to go on. They believe the sale is unjust and unfair.”

The association is now taking legal advice.