Stubborn homeowners who refused to leave their 'horrendous' block of flats held up the completion of a major regeneration project for a decade, it has been revealed.

The two residents, who have not been identified, clung on to their ground floor flat at Abbey Fields in Erdington turning down offers and 'holding the city council to ransom' it has been alleged.

Meanwhile the rest of the block has lain empty and become a magnet for drug-taking and anti-social behaviour.

But the long-running saga is now set to end after the authority forced through a compulsory purchase order and will bulldoze the run-down four-storey maisonette building in a matter of weeks.

The flats in Rowden Drive in Erdington, where one resident held up a multi-million pounds housing development for 10 years.
The flats in Rowden Drive in Erdington, where one resident held up a multi-million pounds housing development for 10 years.

The homeowners moved out earlier this week.

The lengthy stand-off emerged after the council's planning committee approved demolition of the block on Rowden Drive on Thursday (February 14).

 

Cllr Bob Beauchamp, on the committee, said: "This has been going on for a long, long time someone bought their premises and held the city council to ransom for a good ten years by not vacating it and by taking it to its ultimate end."

The estate, formerly known as Lyndhurst, was largely built in the 1960s and was identified for major regeneration by the council, which owned most of it, in 2003.

The flats in Rowden Drive in Erdington, where one resident held up a multi-million pounds housing development for 10 years.
The flats in Rowden Drive in Erdington, where one resident held up a multi-million pounds housing development for 10 years.

The project involved the clearance of 237 flats and maisonettes.

In 2007 the council agreed that compulsory purchase powers could be used in situations where sales could not be agreed.

Plans to build 316 homes on the estate, over a number of phases, were approved back in 2010 and while the majority of them have since been delivered the project remains unfinished because of the block on Rowden Drive.

Cllr Gareth Moore, who represents Erdington and sits on the planning committee, said: "This has been a long-standing issue.

The maisonette on Rowden Drive is finally set to be demolished.
The maisonette on Rowden Drive is finally set to be demolished.

"The crux of it is the estate was being cleared and the last resident wanted a reasonable offer but the housing market crashed in 2008.

"The council made an offer and they were not satisfied and have held out ever since."

He added:"We (Erdington ward councillors) supported the compulsory purchase order because the maisonette is a complete eyesore holding up the redevelopment.

"It has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour, drug-taking, apparently knives have even been hidden in there. I'm not entirely sure why the resident wants to stay there.

"Everyone is keen to see it come down. It is pretty horrendous.

"This has been long overdue and I very much welcome progress being made to bring down the maisonette and complete the regeneration of the area."

The council confirmed that the Secretary of State approved the compulsory purchase order after the two residents had objected.

The flats in Rowden Drive in Erdington, where one resident held up a multi-million pounds housing development for 10 years.
 

A spokeswoman said: "Birmingham City Council has been regenerating the old Lyndhurst Estate (now called Abbeyfields) with considerable success.

"Rowden Drive is the last part of the estate to be redeveloped. Unfortunately this cannot take place without the demolition of 138 Rowden Drive.

"Ownership of the property has now transferred to the council.

"The council’s housing officers  worked with the former owners to find them alternative accommodation.

"On 1 February 2019 the former owners confirmed that they did not require the council to find them alternate  accommodation.

"They vacated 138 Rowden Drive on Monday 11 February 2019."

"The former owners have been paid 90 per cent of their compensation in accordance with the council’s statutory duty."