We live in one of Greater Manchester's most desirable towns but need to get out of our estate now

People say they've been blighted by anti-social behaviour.
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Stockport’s becoming the most exciting place to live in Greater Manchester with massive work taking place to redevelop the town.

New flats are going up around improved transport infrastructure, and a stream of new cafes and bars encouraging residents to stay local on Friday night. The overhaul of the once tired and derelict town centre is set to attract thousands to Stockport and be a major boost to the local economy.

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But away from the cranes and ribbon cutting, tenants in one of the borough’s housing estates say they are desperate to get out. Lancashire Hill, in Reddish South, is home to hundreds of people and located just 25 minutes from the town’s main railway station.

The Lancashire Hill estate in Stockport The Lancashire Hill estate in Stockport
The Lancashire Hill estate in Stockport

In October, a visit to the estate found there to be a number of long-standing issues which residents wanted fixing. Local councillors said tenants were left living in “dire conditions” which hadn’t been addressed for ages. So has anything changed since then?

James Frizzell, a Green Party councillor representing the ward, said progress is being made but “there’s still a long way to go.”

“The time between things getting reported and things being done is too long, there are reasons given such as waiting for parts from Europe, but Stockport homes could be doing more”, he said. “These are people’s lives, it’s not acceptable to wait for a big refurbishment in a number of years, we want to see improvements now.”

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The Local Democracy Reporting Service spoke to three different Lancashire Hill tenants about their experience of living on the estate.

Sarah is a 37-year-old who lives in the Bentleys building with her two sons. She’s suffered from anti-social behaviour on the estate, when her own door was targeted and hit with eggs. But her biggest concern is how long it takes to sort vital repairs. This was especially worrying during the recent growth of mould in her home.

She said: “Normally when we report a repair they give us a date for the work, but when I had mould it took two weeks. They came and looked at it, but then left it until February 21st to sort it. I live with my sons, aged 17 and 3, and we had that mould for two weeks.”

The Lancashire Hill estate in Stockport. The Lancashire Hill estate in Stockport.
The Lancashire Hill estate in Stockport.

When she found her door had been targeted, she asked for help from one of the cleaners who works on the block to sort it out. Sarah was told they couldn’t help her, and she was left to deal with it alone.

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She also worries about the amount of noise coming from the landing area in the building, which makes it difficult to settle her three-year-old. She added: “It’s not nice living here, I have a case worker who’s helping me get out.”

During the visit, another resident in the Bentleys was seen speaking to a member of Stockport Homes staff about the smell of marijuana coming from one of the blocks. The same door was found to be unlocked and open, not needing a security fob to gain access to the building.

The 54-year-old has lived on Lancashire Hill all his life, having moved there two days after being born. He didn’t want his name to be published, but he felt the estate has lost some of the potential it once had.

He said: “It used to be nice here but it’s not now. We need people that want to be here, not people who are dumped here.

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“Most of the neighbours are fine, but they have some idiots here. There’s always the smell of weed near the entrance door and staircase because there’s no cameras there. But I’ve lived here all my life and my mum’s 80-years-old, we don’t want to move.”

The tenant said he has reported repairs in the past that have taken a long time to complete or been forgotten about.

A broken door on the Lancashire Hill estate A broken door on the Lancashire Hill estate
A broken door on the Lancashire Hill estate

He said: “It takes ages for them to do repairs. I’ve been waiting 18 years for a new bathroom window, but I’m sick of reporting it. It’s broken and I don’t even open it now. Stockport Homes don’t care about us, they just want the money.”

A third tenant from one of the tower blocks was passing and stopped to share their views. He said he understands why some don’t like living there but he’s not experienced any trouble with neighbours himself. But he still wanted to “get out as quickly as possible” from Lancashire Hill.

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John Bowker, executive director of operations at Stockport Homes Group said that progress is being made on the estate to address concerns from tenants.

He said: “We continue to work closely with local councillors and residents to address any issues that arise at Lancashire Hill. Significant progress has been made in response to concerns raised and many repairs have been prioritised. Some repairs do take longer than we would like but this is often due to their complex nature or the need to obtain parts.

“Stock condition surveys are currently being undertaken across all SHG homes by an external contractor and more than 200 have been completed to date at Lancashire Hill. These surveys will inform future reinvestment programmes.

“We recognise that ongoing and intensive management is required at this scheme due to its location, demographics and high density. We remain committed to improving the area and will do all we can to achieve this to benefit the lives of all residents who live there.”

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The company also stressed that the estate is managed intensively with daily caretaking, regular walkabouts, tenancy visits and close working with stakeholders such as the council and other statutory agencies. It said its caretaking team record all issues, including repairs, anti-social behaviour – which has seen 70 cases opened since April 2023 – and fly tipping. It offers a weekly surgery at Lancashire Hill every Wednesday between 9.30am and 11.30am where staff attend to address any issues that are reported.

More widely, social housing in Stockport is facing a crossroads moment as councillors recently voted to review how the council’s homes are managed. It currently has a deal which sees Stockport Homes managing the properties as an arms length management organisation (ALMO).

But at a council meeting last month, members of the town hall said they get regular complaints from Stockport Homes tenants and want to consider making changes. It was one of the main reasons put forward by Stockport Labour Group who proposed the review.

Despite the turbulence, the chief executive of Stockport Homes recently told the LDRS that the company is working hard to address any shortfalls and offer the best experience for its residents.

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Helen McHale, who helped launch the company in 2005, said feedback from tenants has shown that the vast majority feel repairs are sorted in a timely manner. She also emphasised that Stockport Homes is doing all it can despite dealing with pressure of a repairs backlog, high inflation, and a national housing crisis with huge demand for new homes.

She said: “All these pressures are coming together but it’s an absolute priority for us in terms of how we manage that and get our people to do it. Our satisfaction levels are in the 90 percent range – 10pc is a lot of dissatisfied people – but we do get a lot of compliments about our repairs. I’d hate for anyone to think that we didn’t care, it’s really important to us.”

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