Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Visit to No.28

Write up on my recent visit to the No.28 project courtesy of ISOS:

Hexham MP Guy Opperman has lavished praise on the regeneration work being done on the Hexham East estate - and promised to return to lend a hand.

Mr Opperman, who has represented Hexham since the 2010 general election, was given a tour of the estate by regeneration officer Grace Burke and her colleague Claire Heaviside, alongside long time resident Margie Mennim.

Grace and Claire’s work is based in the No28 community house on the estate, operated by the Hexham Community Partnership. Their salaries are co-funded by social landlord Isos, which owns and manages all the 364 social rented homes on the estate, and Northumberland County Council.

Mr Opperman has spoken in parliament before now about his admiration for the regeneration work done on the Hexham East estate, and has taken an interest in how Grace and Claire work alongside the local Sure Start Centre, the Hexham East Residents Association and the Police to help improve the fortunes of the area.

Mr Opperman said: “This is really the most impressive community organisation who are slowly but surely helping to transform the East End of Hexham .

“It is led by dynamic, warm and very focused people who have nothing but good ideas.

“I could not have learnt more in the time we had – I already knew the area very well, but when you see what they are doing on the ground, it’s fantastic. Everyone here can be very proud of themselves.

“People talk about the big society, but this community has been doing this for years. This model works with the community partnership, No28 itself, Sure Start, and the residents association – all very active community organisations collaboratively transforming the East End. Essentially, it’s about people taking ownership.

“I shall be coming back to do a multitude of things here – including a litter pick at some stage in the summer.”

One of the recent developments on Hexham East seen by Mr Opperman was a £1m development of eight new family homes by Isos.

On an estate of mainly smaller homes, predominantly two and three bed properties, there has been an acute shortage of larger homes.

So Homedale Court represents the first new affordable family homes to be built on the Hexham East estate for decades.

Grace said: “It’s great that our MP sees it as important to come here. He recognises there is good work coming out of here and we’ve been able to show him the amount of organisations involved in this project – and what we can achieve when we have the opportunity to work together for a number of years.”

Councillor Tom Brechany, executive member responsible for housing, planning and regeneration at Northumberland County Council said: "Both Northumberland and predecessor authority Tynedale have been heavily involved in plans to make positive improvements in the Hexham East area – in which the No 28 project plays a key role. “We are very pleased to see the recently developed new family housing complete in the area, and look forward to working with the Hexham Community Partnership and Isos to see further improvements in the future.”