Last resident in doomed Wishaw flats refuses to leave

- BBC News

Last resident in doomed Wishaw flats refuses to leave

The last resident of a housing estate due to be demolished has said the council will need to double its offer to get him to leave.

Nick Wisniewski has had no neighbours in his block on the Gowkthrapple housing estate in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, since December.

The 66-year-old wants at least £80,000 so he can afford to buy a new flat.

But North Lanarkshire Council said they could not pay Mr Wisniewski more than the property was worth.

The retired bank worker bought the flat in Stanhope Place several years ago under the Right to Buy scheme, which helped council tenants buy their homes at discounted rates.

The scheme has since been closed in Scotland.

"Ive been here for 21 years and Im settled," Mr Wisniewski told BBC Scotland.

"Ive looked at prices of houses round about. For a two-bedroom flat youre talking anything between £80,00 to £100,000.

"I finished up with the bank, I took my redundancy. But Im not prepared to makes myself skint because of North Lanarkshire Council."

Mr Wisniewski said the council had offered him £35,000 for his flat, along with two years of free rent at a new council property.

The authority is planning to redevelop the whole Gowkthrapple estate, replacing "ageing" housing and creating an "attractive and well-connected new neighbourhood".

Work on other parts of the estate has already begun.

Mr Wisniewski told BBC Scotland he was not willing to move into a new rented council property, but wanted to buy a new place.

"Im too old for this," he said. "I dont want a lot of hassle in my life, I just want to take it easy."

"Thats why I would prefer to just move out and into somewhere I could buy."

He said he had not heard from North Lanarkshire Council since last November and had been waiting to hear from the authority with an improved offer.

"If they gave me £35,000, I could easily put £20,000 to it which is not nearly enough. So really they need to double their offer for me to get something decent," he said.

"A lot of people would say Id be better to go - but Im sticking it out because I have in my mind what Im looking for. Im looking for something better and Im not going to get that only having £35,000 from the council."

North Lanarkshire Council is planning to pursue a compulsory purchase order on the property but said its door "remains open" to Mr Wisniewski for further talks.

A council spokesperson said: "We have been in dialogue with the owner for several years about this issue and although we understand that there is a personal connection to the property, we simply cannot pay more for the property than it is worth.

"If the owner feels that the value he has been offered doesnt reflect the market value then there are ways for a valuation to be negotiated on his behalf.

"We are keen to resolve this matter to ensure that he receives a fair deal and to support him to find alternative accommodation. We have discussed the option of other suitable places for him to stay, but he has refused each of them."

Mr Wisniewski said he was open to further discussions, but planned to stick it out in his flat "as long as it takes".

"I reckon the council is going to make a lot of money out of it [the development] at the end of the day, so why not give me more?" he added.

Read it all at BBC News