Council wins fight to force people from their homes

Resident Bob Bigland who does not want to move from his home in Rowner even though he will be facing a compulsory purchase order
Resident Bob Bigland who does not want to move from his home in Rowner even though he will be facing a compulsory purchase order

Members of Havant cemetery group invite MP to work with them

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PEOPLE still living in a run-down housing estate will be forced out of their homes to make way for a major redevelopment.

Gosport Borough Council has been granted the power to use compulsory purchase orders to remove those refusing to leave the Rowner Estate.

The council has been locked in a battle to buy the land off residents since last year after it failed to reach an agreement with around 55 remaining homeowners.

Measures approved by the government now mean the council can buy the land and force them out.

Robert Bigland, 73, of Darwin Way, has lived in his home for 23 years and was one of those refusing to go.

He paid £37,000 for his flat, but has now been offered £41,000 by the council to sell up and rent a two-bedroom apartment in Alverstoke.

Mr Bigland said: ‘It’s a question of take it or leave it really.

‘It’s the best option they have given me. I would have been happy to stay here.

‘They want me to move, it’s not me that wants to.’

Some people are expected to move out within the next two or three months.

Susan Coulson, 47, from Livingstone Court, bought her home for £52,000 in 2005, but is being offered just £42,000 for it.

‘We bought it outright so we would stay here for the rest of our days,’ she said.

‘It’s not an ideal place from the outside but inside, you make it your own home.

‘The area will be nice when it’s all finished but I didn’t want it to upset our lives as it has.’

Plans for the £145m renewal project were first announced in 2007.

The council then made the compulsory purchase order in September last year and a public inquiry was held.

The scheme will see the construction of up to 750 new houses, along with shops, a supermarket and a community square.

Anybody who has not reached an agreement to sell their home has been written to by the developers advising them of their rights.

Owners are faced with selling their land to the council under the purchase order or to the First Wessex Housing Association.

First Wessex can help them find somewhere to rent or they could put the money towards buying a home.

Councillor Mark Hook, leader of the council, said: ‘This was a necessary step in the regeneration of the area. The compulsory purchase order will allow this much-needed regeneration scheme to progress. This is another big step forward for Gosport.

‘It’s unfortunate people have made their homes here for many years and they have my sympathy. But we need to improve the quality of life here.

‘We want to work with the remaining few.’