RESIDENTS of two iconic tower blocks consigned for demolition at the so-called gateway to Oldham have voiced concern over the plans.

The town’s skyline is about to radically change when 1970s style high-rise tower blocks Crossbank House and Summervale House, are bulldozed.

Housing association First Choice Homes Oldham says residents will be moved out.

It claims both blocks are “unpopular” with locals, and costly, extensive repairs would be needed to maintain the buildings.

With a fifth of the residents moving out last year, the association says many that remain are unhappy about the neighbourhood where the flats are located and welcome the news.

But at the gated entrances of the two Brutalist-style buildings, not everyone living in the 247 properties affected is optimistic about a future without the towers.

Despite being told they will get a £6,300 pay off, as well as financial help to move, some longstanding residents are angry that their homes of many years will soon be reduced to rubble.

They claim "hundreds" are now scrambling to bid for other First Choice homes and facing competition from other people applying to the association from outside of the tower blocks.

However, First Choice says residents will be given high priority on the housing list.

Darren Laban, aged 50, is not in favour of the plans to move him from his home of many years.

“It really, really sucks. I’ve been here quite a while and would rather not move,” he said.

“We’ve got no choice. We feel like we have been left in the lurch.

“We have been told that we have to bid for houses which means, how are we going to get a house before they knock it down?”

One resident of Crossbank House said she had been considering buying the flat and was surprised to be handed a letter revealing the buildings were to be demolished.

The 36-year-old bakery worker said: “It’s bad, now I don’t know where I’ll move to. It’s just no good. I want to choose a good area but we are all having to bid for houses again.

“It might be much harder for me to get to work by moving away from the centre. I am not happy with this.

“Maybe I’ll end up being the only one left.”

Another Crossbank resident, who has lived in the building for 11 years, said although he knew there were problems with the building, he’d made his flat "nice".

When asked how he felt that his home of over a decade was to be knocked down, the 57-year-old said: “We don’t have a lot of choice. We just got a letter to say that was happening.

“We have now got to the bid for another place. I was applying for a property and there were 280 people going for that property.

“If the other places are like that it’s going to be impossible to get anywhere.”

He admitted there were issues with anti-social behaviour in the building, such as people drinking alcohol and urinating in the communal areas.

“We used to have security on the site but we were told it wasn’t cost effective,” he said.

“We don’t know when we will be moved, it could be next week or it could be two years. I am trying to get out as soon as possible.”

One Crossbank resident said she has lived in the building for almost a decade, and described the announcement as "horrible".

“There are 240 residents here, and all of them have to look for somewhere new. I know people who have been here 27 years,” the 39-year-old said.

“I am still in shock. It’s been my home for nearly 10 years.

“It’s sad, I know they will need to kick us out but they push us finally to demolish.

“For many years this building has stood here, and now they are saying that this building is not good.

“Some residents had a new bathroom, a new kitchen and new CCTV cameras were put in, what for when they knew they are going to knock it down?

“This is about the stress of having to pack up, making over again.

“And now everyone is fighting for buildings. They are saying we need to go out and look at places in Shaw, but if I am living in the centre, I want to stay living in the centre.”

Michal Czepiniawski has only lived in Summervale House for 18 months.

He said: “I’m not really bothered, for people that have lived here for more than a couple of years it’s a bad thing.

“It’s an old building and it could be getting dangerous. I want to move closer to my work.”

However, he added that the experience was different for people who had spent longer in the towers.

“I spoke with an American guy, he’s lived here for five or six years and he’s made his home beautiful,” Michal said.

“He’s losing everything that he has built inside even though they’re rehoming us.”

The announcement comes after a review of First Choice’s high-rise housing blocks, which found Crossbank and Summervale "no longer meet the needs of customers" and need to be replaced – although there are no safety concerns.

The demolition of the towers will make way for new family homes, as the housing association plans to build more than 800 homes in Oldham over the next five years.

It is expected to take up to two years to rehome everyone currently in the towers.

Meanwhile, the landlord will work with Oldham Council and the local community to draw up potential plans for the site.

It has come as good news for Caroline Brierley, aged 69, who lives in Crossbank House.

She said: “I want to move, it’s full of idiots. A lot of repairs need doing, there’s a massive draught coming in through the windows.”

A 23-year-old man, who has lived in Crossbank for three years, agreed.

“It’s okay that they want to knock them down. When we move they’re helping fund it, if they help then it’s good,” he said.

Angela Sinkinson, aged 72, has lived in Crossbank House for 33 years.

“It was such brilliant news when they knocked on my door to tell me what they had planned for the blocks,” she said. “It means I’ll get a new home.

“I think the vast majority of people who live here have welcomed the chance to move to a better home.

“Lots of people have moved out of the blocks in the last few years, and I think it’s time that they did something new here and built some new homes that are more modern.”

Staff from First Choice have also been stationed at the Crossbank Community Room to answer questions and assist people in finding new properties.

Vinny Roche, chief executive, First Choice Homes Oldham said: “The vast majority of customers we have spoken to at our information sessions have told us they understood the reasons behind the decision to demolish the blocks, and while some naturally had questions most people have told us they want to use this opportunity to find a new home.

“We are working closely with customers to understand their individual needs and help them identify new homes.

“We appreciate that it will take some time for everyone to find the right home. We will be working with customers throughout the process, supporting them to bid for properties if necessary and helping them look at all the options available.”

See also: Empty homes to be taken over for social housing