Doomed Hightown flats exodus 'on track'.

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE organised exodus of tenants from the doomed Hightown Flats is going according to plan.

That is the view of the Wrexham Council boss in charge of the massive operation, who says the whole relocation exercise is due to be completed in a year’s time.

Late last year the council gave the go-ahead for the demolition of the five blocks of five-storey apartments, plagued by a catalogue of structural problems.

The authority could not afford to spend £17.5 million on a major facelift of the 181 flats and maisonettes, which were built in 1970.

Councillors therefore opted to bulldoze the whole complex to make way for affordable housing.

In a consultation exercise, seven out of 10 tenants and residents backed the decision.

Since then, the intricate process of finding new homes for 120 households has been progressing steadily.

The council set up a project team to liaise with the people affected and three officers are dealing full-time with the operation.

Landlord services manager Fred Czulowski said while some tenants had decided to move to housing association properties, the majority had opted to stay with the council.

A number of households have already successfully moved out and begun to integrate with their new communities.

And Mr Czulowski said feedback from tenants about their new homes had been positive.

A major concern, he said, was to ensure the site did not take on the hopeless appearance of a demolition zone as it emptied.

He said: “It is very important the area is kept as clean and tidy as possible, heating and water supplies are maintained and that minor repairs continue to be carried out.

“We are also working closely with the police and fire service to make sure that flats remain secure when people move out.”

He added: “Everything is going according to plan and we are very pleased with the work of the team, the progress that is being made and the response from the people who are still living there.”

Mr Czulowski said his officers were also doing follow-up work with tenants who had moved out.

In a number of cases, people had been able to move to places they would not have had the points to qualify for under normal circumstances.

He also pointed out that although Operation Hightown was obviously having an effect on it, the council’s normal lettings procedure was still going ahead.

To compensate them for losing their homes, people moving from the flats are entitled to statutory compensation of £4,700 per household, in addition to payments for removal costs.

Tenants have the choice of moving back to the area once it has been redeveloped.

The Communities First organisation is helping the council to ensure people moving away from the area are able to maintain links with the local community if they wish.

See full story in the Leader

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