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Residents count cost of Solihull regeneration

It's regeneration but at what cost to the community? That is the cry from beleaguered residents in parts of Smith's Wood who have witnessed another night of vandalism and fire on their doorsteps

It's regeneration but at what cost to the community? That is the cry from beleaguered residents in parts of Smith's Wood who have witnessed another night of vandalism and fire on their doorsteps.

Three empty bungalows in Blackbird Croft were set ablaze by arsonists on Wednesday evening (November 5) - just another incident which has left the once tight-knit community torn apart.

Malcolm Cullen is the Chairman of Arran Way Residents Association. He said: "We saw the smoke and then heard the fire engines at about 10-10.15pm. There were four of them. We haven't slept all night - me and the wife. It's like Beirut.

"We have been badly let down. I'm constantly in touch with the Regeneration people to no avail. Some of the properties have been empty for 18 months and there must be at least 15 empty dwellings. It's so frustrating. They are leading us around by the nose. The elderly can't walk around on their own, they don't feel safe. They are prisoners in their own homes."

The Woodpecker Grove resident added: "There's no pride, no vision. The council haven't built one area where residents of a council estate can say 'Oh I wouldn't mind living in one of them'. I have lived here since 1968 and in this Grove for 25 years.

"People have come from all walks of life and settled down. Now it's taken away from us. For 25 years we have had beautiful bungalows with gardens. Now since the old people have been moved and scattered to the four corners of the house, we don't have that. I feel passionately about it.

Solihull Council was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Regenerating North Solihull is a 15-year project to transform the three wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge by improving homes, shops, schools, health and community facilities, transport, the environment and creating jobs. One of the UK's biggest ever regeneration programmes, the project will see £1.8 billion public and private investment over the next 15 years and 8,500 new modern homes.

 

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