Ham residents back new homes scheme promising to transform lives
By Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter
2nd Aug 2022 | Local News
Residents of the Ham Close estate have thrown their support behind plans to bulldoze their blocks for new homes, after claiming they have been dealing with "damp" and "mould" for years.
People living on the estate would be given the option to move into the new development if the plans go ahead.
The plans from developer Hill Residential would see all 192 homes on the 1960s estate knocked down and replaced with 452 homes across blocks up to six storeys tall. Over 140 affordable homes on the existing estate would be replaced with another 78 extra affordable homes being built.
A statement submitted with the scheme says it would "provide more and better homes that local people can afford". It says: "The flats at Ham Close are of poor construction, with poor insulation by today's standards. Many have condensation/damp issues. In addition, there are no private gardens, terraces or lifts, leaving a number of flats inaccessible to people with disabilities."
Ham Close Residents Association, a group of residents on the estate, has now warned the redevelopment could be their "last opportunity to have decent homes". In a letter to the council, the group said residents had been waiting for regeneration for 20 years and that they "deserve better than the standard of homes that we live in now".
The letter says: "Many residents are now fed up with hearing about the regeneration, as some have been listening to the word for many years coming and going (over 20 years). In this time it has cropped up and then been dropped and dropped again.
"This is usually down to protests from people in the locality who do not actually live in the Close. This has had a huge impact on residents and for leaseholders affects what work they can carry out on their properties to improve their standard of living e.g. updating systems, etc. At Residents Association meetings, regardless of the agenda, issues about damp in the flats and black mould continue to arise."
The letter says insulation in the homes is "inadequate" and they are "too expensive to heat to a reasonable standard and this is only going to get worse as fuel costs rise". It says the village has a "good" bus service and local GPs and dentists would be able to take on new residents.
A mum-of-two on the estate wrote: "The blocks are falling apart, we are a family of four in a one-bedroom flat where problems seem to arise daily with no solution, just wishing it away with the promise of regeneration. While the building work may cause a temporary disruption to the local area, the rebuild of Ham Close will not only benefit us but will allow many families to thrive."
Another added: "This development will improve the lives of tenants like myself immeasurably. Although I was grateful to be housed in Ham Close nearly 20 years ago, the blocks were not designed to last beyond a certain point in time and that time has certainly been reached. They are no longer fit for purpose, regardless of the aesthetics or any other physical objections that have been raised relating to the planned new development. The problems that we are facing have been getting progressively worse over many years."
But the plans have been met with opposition from residents on nearby streets, who have written to the council expressing fears that congested local roads won't be able to deal with more traffic. They also raised concerns that the proposed number of parking spaces is "inadequate", the buildings are too tall and the homes too dense. The proposal includes 287 car parking spaces.
One objector said: "The estate's roads are generally narrow, with a number of notable pinch points which will only get worse with all the extra street parking that will happen. In particular, the junctions with the A307 at Sandy Lane, Ham Common and Dukes Avenue are already very slow at peak times – hundreds of extra residents' cars will push the road system to the point of gridlock, with the associated implications for air quality."
Another objector wrote: "I really feel that the number of homes is in excess of what Ham can accomodate without there being problems. I am not against extra homes being provided but more in keeping with what the rest of the infrastructure can take." A third said: "Local schools, transport links, doctors and other amenities are in no shape to cope with such a drastic change."
Ham Youth Club and community workshop space Richmond Makerlabs would also be replaced under the plans.
Andy Hill, group chief executive at The Hill Group, said in a statement: "Hill, along with RHP, has conducted extensive consultation with existing Ham Close residents and the wider Ham Community since 2013 to ensure as much feedback as possible was considered and reflected in the planning application. As a partnership, we are confident the plans submitted will create high-quality, energy-efficient, modern homes to suit the needs of existing and future residents, with landscaped green open spaces for the whole community to enjoy." Richmond Housing Partnership has been contacted for comment.
All images Credit: Arqui9/The Hill Group/BPTW.