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Landlords promised compensation as huge estate faces bulldozer

Thetford estate landlords

Landlords have been promised fair compensation by a developer planning to bulldoze scores of homes on one of England’s most deprived housing estates following protests.

Housing association Flagship Group has submitted plans to spend £250 million transforming the Abbey Estate in Thetford over the next 20 years by improving 540 homes and creating an extra 500 properties.

More than 300 people have signed a petition against controversial plans for the current 1,100 homes, some of which are owned by landlords including Cathy Spillane who lives on the estate, rents out two properties there, and is opposing the development.

Flagship Group has promised to re-house social renters and buy owner-occupied properties.

However, Spillane told the BBC she didn’t believe the firm’s assurances that nobody would be financially worse off. Spillane had also received a letter saying it was her responsibility to inform her tenants of the redevelopment.


“Once they’re homeless there would be no guarantee that Flagship or Breckland Council would provide them with another house,” she says.

James Payne, (pictured) regeneration director at Flagship Group, insisted no one would be forced to leave the estate if the proposals were agreed. He said the group would redevelop the site in small sections, meaning families would be moved to other parts of the estate once they were completed, in phases over a 20-year period.

“Really critical to us is improving the quality, the affordability and the types of property we can afford tenants of the future,” said Payne.

He said landlords would receive fair compensation, assessed by independent valuers.

He also denied more homes would be crammed into the space. “The work we want to do should enable the Abbey not just to cope in the future but to thrive,” added Payne.

Main pic: Flagship's artist's impression of how the new development would look, set against the current estate (inset).