Estate to get multi-million pound investment

Blakelaw residents were celebrating today after winning a multi-million makeover for their estate.

Tenants are jubilant after Your Homes Newcastle agreed to allocate 2m towards improving the look and feel of the 165 Estate in Blakelaw, Newcastle.

The estate, which gets it names from the 165 homes which make it up, has suffered in the past from criminal and anti-social behaviour due to rat runs which run the entire length of the estate. Emergency vehicles have also encountered problems getting on to the estate due to its maze-like layout.

After months of close working between residents and their local councillors, YHN, which manages Newcastle City Council's housing stock, agreed to fund a major programme of improvements works.

This will involve closing off rat runs, opening up others parts of the estate, and improving car parking. This will enhance the look of the estate, give it a more logical flow and help reduce the fear of crime.

Local councillor David Stockdale, who chairs the Blakelaw Ward Community Partnership said the investment was just reward for residents who have campaigned for years to improve where they live.

Cllr Stockdale said: "This investment will make a massive difference to a lot of families, some of whom have been plagued by anti-social behaviour.

"They refused to be beaten and instead worked with their ward members to see what they could do to change the layout of the estate. They won 10,000 from the Design Council's Design Your Neighbourhood programme and never looked back. This latest investment from YHN will turn their hopes into reality.

"It's just the start of big improvements round here and residents deserve full credit for the way they have taken advantage of the whole devolution agenda. They have stepped up to the plate and are creating a model for resident-led development which can be copied across the city."

Residents have contributed to the debate about their estate by attending a series of sessions to discuss future layouts.

Chair of the 165 Estate Tenants & Residents Association, Doreen Jardine, said: "It's great that residents have taken the opportunity to have a real say in what the 165 estate will look like in the future.

"Our local ward councillors and YHN listened to our concerns and worked closely with us to pull this whole thing together. I am over the moon that we will see some real improvements on the estate soon."

A design brief assisted by Northern Architecture and incorporating the proposals is expected to be complete in the next few weeks when YHN will begin the procurement process for an architect and construction partner.

David Langhorne, Director of Property Services at YHN said: "We have a long term commitment to regenerating our estates so we are pleased to make this substantial investment.

"It will help tackle residents' priorities and improve community pride and modern living across the wider area of Blakelaw."

Coun Hazel Stephenson, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: "This is a great example of residents taking control of their own destiny and improving their estate. I wish them every success, and I hope to see these kind of initiatives copied across Newcastle as the council devolves power to neighbourhoods."

The 165 Estate has previously benefited from a 1.2m facelift which also improved the energy insulation of the blocks.