'I like my flat as it is': Residents concerned about proposals to demolish entire Spring Boroughs street

Tom and Judy Clarke have been living in their property for 40 years.
Tom and Judy Clarke have been living in their property for 40 years.

Residents of a block of flats earmarked for demolition in Spring Boroughs have spoken out about their fears for the proposals - which will see 82 homes replaced.

Residents living in St Mary's and Berkeley House might have to move out of their homes in five years if plans are approved to knock down their flats and build 126 new homes in their place.

Claire Ashby visits her friends over the road to help them tend to their communal garden.

Claire Ashby visits her friends over the road to help them tend to their communal garden.

Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) say the housing association cannot carry out refurbishment works due to the extent of the renovation needed - but residents say there is nothing wrong with their flats.

Former nurse Judy, 68, and husband Tom Clarke, 70, have been living in St Mary's Court for 40 years.

She said: "I have been crying, I have not been sleeping properly. We got the letter [on Thursday]. I thought: 'oh my goodness'.

"They said we could come back but we want it in writing.

Flats in Castle Street have been earmarked for closure by Northampton Partnership Homes this week.

Flats in Castle Street have been earmarked for closure by Northampton Partnership Homes this week.

"I like my flat as it is. I like the area because it's near the town and my doctors, it's a community here."

Claire Ashby is Judy's friend. She lives in Spring Borough's and helps Judy to maintain St Mary's Court gardens. She said: "It was such a shock, it rocked people to the core."

Claire says many in the close-knit community even have a cut of each other's flat keys.

"I can't stand the thought of what they are doing," she added. "We all care for each other because we've not been well. We put a gazebo outside in the summer and mow the lawn. It's access to a little bit of outdoors."

Resident Fatima Ali lives with her four children in Spring Boroughs. Danielle Stone is the Labour councillor for Castle ward.

Resident Fatima Ali lives with her four children in Spring Boroughs. Danielle Stone is the Labour councillor for Castle ward.

On Thursday (February 21) NPH sent an intention to demolish notice to all residents in the two blocks. Receiving the legal notice does not mean demolition will start anytime soon, but it does let residents know formally that their home could be demolished as part of the proposal.

But many in the town are welcoming the news.

Councillor for the area Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said the developments 'have been a long time coming'.

"Berkeley House and St Marys are no longer fit for purpose," she said.

"They are damp, cold and have no or inadequate play space. We need good quality houses for families with children and good quality apartments for singles and couples.

"Yes, it will be an upheaval for residents. It will be made tolerable by the promise of better housing that meets their needs. I trust NPH to carry out the consultation and be sensitive to the individual needs of each household.

"I am delighted the proposal includes 24 family homes. Children need space to grow."

If, in due course, planning is approved, NPH promise much improved accommodation for existing residents as well as over 40 additional council homes in the area, many of which will be suitable for families.

Helen Town, assistant director of asset management at NPH said: “It’s really important at this early stage that we keep up open communication with residents. We’re meeting regularly with tenants and leaseholders in their own homes. They have telephone and email information for when we are not there so they can ask questions and stay in touch.

"We want to talk and hear about each individual view. That is why we offered everyone a home visit initially and are following up visits to talk options through and answer any questions. The meetings give us all the opportunity to talk about each person’s concerns, their views on the proposal, and see what we need to do to help each individual person in the event of a move.

"We want to minimise upheaval by providing practical support. Tenants will have the choice of a temporary move and then move back in once the development is finished. We will help them too if they would prefer to make a permanent move to another home when one becomes available."

Northampton Borough Council intends to demolish the following properties:

1-36 Berkeley House, Castle Street, Spring Boroughs, Northampton, NN1 2RQ

37-60 Berkeley House, Castle Street, Spring Boroughs, Northampton, NN1 2RQ

1-22 St Mary's Court, Horsemarket, Spring Boroughs, Northampton, NN1 2SL