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Gentrification Ex-miners face eviction to make way for luxury homes

Privateers seek to kick out Leeds mining families from homes and build unaffordable housing

EX-MINERS and widows in Yorkshire are facing eviction from their homes as a profit-hungry property developer seeks to demolish them to make way for a posh new housing estate.

Seventy houses at Oulton, near Leeds, are threatened with demolition after being taken over by Worcester-based property dealer Pemberstone Group.

It is just the latest of many former coalmining communities across Britain which have had homes, owned by the former National Coal Board and its successor British Coal, sold off to the private sector after pits have been shut down.

But residents, who have formed the campaign group Leeds 26 Save Our Homes, and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are fighting against the latest plans for the unaffordable new houses.

The existing houses all have tenants who are displaying posters opposing the plan. Some are occupied by former miners, their widows or their descendants.

Others are occupied by families not connected to the mining industry.

Pemberstone Group is understood to be seeking planning permission from Leeds City Council to demolish the homes to make way for up-market houses far beyond the financial reach of the tenants.

But the residents are calling on Leeds City Council to buy the homes and run them as council houses.

A tenant named Hazel Field, an NHS administrative worker at the Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, said: “Most of the tenants have contracts with the property owner which mean they can be given eight weeks’ notice to quit.”

She said that the residents had lodged objections to planning permission and sent a delegation to Leeds City Council and will meet housing officials tomorrow.

“Ten of the families have long leases but 60 will at some time be given eight weeks’ notice and told to find new accommodation,” Ms Field said. “There are no local properties available and we will have to leave the area. Families have children in local schools.

“We are certainly in a battle. If we lose there will be no affordable houses left in the area.

“A lot of people are low-waged and can’t take on a mortgage. You can imagine there is a mental strain on us all. People are losing sleep. It’s very worrying time.”

NUM Yorkshire area chairman Chris Skidmore told the Morning Star: “There may be a march and rally to highlight the issue. We have promised to be there.

“After the 1984-85 strike a lot of National Coal Board houses were bought up by less-than-friendly landlords and people were put on the streets. We thought that had finished but obviously it hasn’t.

“The union has pledged its full support. Nobody should be treated in this fashion, especially elderly people who face being bounced out of homes where they have lived for 50 years.”

Pemberstone Group did not respond to a request for a comment.

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