A HOUSING association says people who are moved out of their homes for a £1 million regeneration project will have first refusal on the new flats when work is completed.

The project involves demolishing 48 ageing maisonettes in Pickersleigh Grove, Malvern, and building about 90 new units on the site.

Some of the new flats will be sold to help finance the project and the rest will remain with Festival Housing as social housing.Residents had said they were worried about being moved out and not being able to return.

Duncan Smith, of Festival Housing, said: “The existing housing dates back to the late 40s or early 50s and was originally built with a 25-year lifespan in mind.

“That lifespan has been more than doubled. The houses are very energy-inefficient, and it would cost us millions to bring them up to date. By spending much less money, we can replace them with modern sustainable housing.”

But Mr Smith said about 60 per cent of the new units will be retained by Festival, and existing tenants will have first refusal on moving back.

He said: “We will have to find the residents alternative accommodation while we carry out the work, and our experience is that some will want to move back, and others will decide to stay in their new accommodation.”

Festival held a consultation evening for local residents to explain the plan. Mr Smith said: “I think there was a positive reaction. It costs a lot to heat the existing accommodation and many residents like the idea of lower heating bills.”

Festival is hoping to submit a planning application later this year, with work starting in summer 2014.