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Housing developers accused of secrecy

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Speen residents claim Sovereign housing association plans lacked clarity

THE neighbours and residents of Kersey Crescent estate in Speen have accused social housing provider Sovereign of being secretive over plans to redevelop the estate.

Sovereign Housing association was not invited to the meeting arranged by Speen Parish Council on Tuesday over fears that its presence might prevent those due to be re-housed by the provider from speaking freely.

The general feeling at the meeting was one of concern over the perceived lack of information available so far.

Other views expressed included concern over potential increased density and traffic, loss of green space and other potential issues.

Sovereign South+West unveiled its plans to construct 80 residential units in Kersey Crescent – there are currently 75 units – at a public meeting at Robert Sandilands School on October 5 and the final plans look set to be submitted next year.

Sovereign described the mood at the October meeting as broadly supportive, a view rejected by others who attended.

One, Barry Stone, who lives nearby, said at Tuesday's meeting: “I could not find any information on the internet about their plans and, frankly, I find it unhelpful to come to a meeting where we do not have even a draft of what is proposed.”

To this, the clerk of the parish council, Catherine Gorwin, said: “We did ask them for a copy of the earlier plans, but they said they could not release it because the design is constantly changing.”

Mr Stone – referring to the plans displayed at the October meeting – then said: “All we are asking is for is that they release the plans that have been in the public domain already.”

Responding after the meeting, Sovereign services manager Mathew Hensby said that he was disappointed at not being invited to the meeting: "Had we been present, we would no doubt have been able to respond to the concerns raised and offer reassurance.

We are determined to engage with all stakeholders and have, on a number of occasions, offered to meet the parish council to discuss our plans and listen to their concerns. That offer remains open.

“We have held two large-scale consultation events to which the whole community has been invited. Around 80 local residents took the opportunity to attend the most recent event in October and give us their views on all aspects of the plans.

"Furthermore, we have held a number of one-to-one meetings with Sovereign residents to discuss their own personal circumstances vis-à-vis the redevelopment and we continue to offer this to all our residents.

“We were not in a position to share the plans with the parish council for Tuesday's meeting as we did not want to give the impression that these plans are set in stone. "Moreover, these plans are being updated, based on the feedback we have got from residents.

“At present no decision has been made on the final plans; we are eager to work with all interested parties to develop plans which meet the needs of local residents and ensure the long-term viability of the site.”

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