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Ceremony marks completion of flagship regeneration scheme in Dudley

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A closing ceremony has taken place to mark the completion of a multi-million pound partnership redevelopment of a former local authority housing estate into 314 new homes in Priory ward of Dudley.

The event celebrated the completion of years of hard work and commitment by numerous partners and saw representatives of the lead organisations, residents and the Mayor and Mayoress of Dudley who came together for a commemorative tree planting.

Dudley Council was joined by social enterprise Bromford, Keepmoat Homes and the Home and Communities Agency (HCA) who provided over £12m of funding, as well as tenants and homeowners who helped shape the regeneration of the area.

This project has transformed an area with high levels of deprivation to provide a mix of affordable and outright sale properties, including apartments, two, three and four-bedroom houses, bungalows for older people and four fully adapted wheelchair units.

Darrin Gamble, head of neighbourhoods for Bromford said: “This event has marked the culmination of many years of regeneration activity in North Priory. Teaming up with like-minded organisations has resulted in massive investment in new homes and the creation of a new and thriving community of over 300 families. The whole estate has been transformed and the inclusion of a community house means local organisations can bring their services to the doorstep of the local residents and it can also be used by residents for a whole range of community activities such as fun days, coffee mornings, IT training and money advice.

“This officially marks the change from North Priory to Friars Gate and the celebration of building not only much needed good quality housing in the area but, more importantly, the building of a new community. Not so much a closing ceremony – but a ceremony to mark a new start.”

Shaun Fielding, partnership director of Keepmoat Homes said: “It’s really rewarding to see the end result of lots of hard work, which has not been without its challenges. This has been a technically complex site which has required specialist advice and extensive ground-works as we uncovered historic coal and limestone mine workings, a common thing to find based on the area’s history.”

Cllr Gaye Partridge, cabinet member for housing said: “Our vision for the new North Priory was for a flagship, landmark development that was ground breaking, sustainable, innovative and cutting edge in its design, appearance and construction.  It was our vision to transform the area into a sustainable community with a range of house types, tenures and households contributing to the regeneration of the area. I think that has been achieved and everyone involved should be congratulated.”

Christine Addison, the HCA's executive director for the Midlands said: ““Our investment of over £12m has helped transform the former North Priory Estate. Together with the investment and partnership from Keepmoat Homes, Bromford, Dudley Council and a very supportive local community, an excellent example of area regeneration has been delivered, which is a model for future schemes.”

Resident, Linda Round of Shrewsbury Place said of the estate: “It’s just wonderful. One of my daughters and I are both quite severely disabled so it’s great that we have all the adaptations we need which we didn’t have before. My daughter has very restricted use of her arms and at the age of 43 has been able to open her own bedroom windows for the first time. Life is so much easier and it’s a nice quiet area with no problems.”

Robert Banks, also disabled, lives in a two-bedroom bungalow on Bradfield Way with his partner and granddaughter. He was previously renting privately but had to sleep downstairs on the sofa as he was unable to climb stairs. Moving into his bungalow has meant he’s been able to sleep in his bedroom for the first time in three years.

Barbara and Malcolm Gillard have been able to move back after living on the original North Priory Estate for 50 years. They say they feel they have “returned home.”

People in photo left to right:

Dan Jackson (HCA); George Williams and Sally Johnson (members of community who played a key role in consultation); Cllr Gaye Partridge; the Mayoress and Mayor of Dudley; Darrin Gamble (Bromford) and Shaun Fielding (Keepmoat Homes).