The residents of a former coal mining estate face losing their homes after an Investment Company has proposed to demolish the estate to make way for new private housing.
A national investment company, Pemberstone has in recent weeks made clear their plans to build 72 new homes in Oulton, Leeds. If the development were to go ahead, 70 families in rented housing face being displaced and forced to find alternate accommodation elsewhere.
The move is one which seemingly marks the end of what was once a vibrant mining community, which boasted several large local mines, including: Water Haigh, Newmarket and the Rothwell Colliery. It was because of these mines that the National Coal Board (“NCB”) decided to build 70 semi-detached rental homes, forming what was soon to become an epicentre and home for the local mining community.
Though it was the initial intention of the NCB for this housing to be temporary many of the mining families stayed beyond the last local mine closure of Methley’s Savile pit in 1985 and in fact still reside on the estate today, having lived in the area for over half a century.
These families will remember the estate as it once stood, with miners paying £2 per week to rent their properties, with the added benefit of free coal as a perk of being a miner and living on the estate. This seems in stark contrast to their position today, where they occupy the properties on largely short-term leases, with little certainty as to their future.
If the development were to go ahead some 250 locals would be without housing and forced to relocate, or to be relocated. One local commented “At the end of the day, a new home is not going to be here, it’s going to be anywhere. We don’t know who’s going to re-house us”.
Despite these fears, it seems that the proposed development has once more evidenced the fortitude and togetherness which communities such as these boast. This is so, as already many locals have banded together, forming an action group to protest the application and to put pressure on the investment group to alter their proposals.
These residents are not alone in their efforts, as Labour Councillor Karen Bruce has vowed to stand by the locals and has already spoken on their behalf at a public consultation to discuss the proposals.
It is yet to be seen what effect, if any that these protests and the words of Ms Bruce will have upon the proposals themselves, as at the time of writing no formal planning application has been lodged. However, it is certain that if these homes are demolished and these families displaced that this would mark the end for a once great mining community and would draw an industry which once employed over 1 million people one step closer to being merely a passage in the history books.
Jordans Solicitors has a department working with ex coal miners looking into their Vibration White Finger claims as it has come to light that many miners missed out on £1000’s. If you’re an ex miner and think you may have a claim, contact a member of our VWF team free on 03303 001103.