Tributes paid after man who ‘changed the face of Nottingham’ passes away

Tributes have been paid after a former Nottingham City Council housing director who “helped change the face of Nottingham” died, aged 86.

Arthur Oscroft who was awarded the OBE for services to housing in 1995, was instrumental in carrying out demolition and rebuilding in areas such as St Ann’s, The Meadows and Hyson Green.

Joining the council in the 1970s as a development officer, he was appointed Director of Housing in 1979, holding the position until he retired in 1995. He drove a number of changes which have had a lasting impact on housing in the city.

He was directly involved in the development of Top Valley, the redevelopment of St Ann’s and The Meadows, plus sites across the city such as Clifton Lane, Highbury Vale, Cranwell Road, central Bulwell, Crabtree Farm and Snape Wood, placing a strong emphasis on the importance of design in housing. He implemented rehousing and demolition strategies to tackle unpopular high density, system built estates such as at Hyson Green, Basford and Balloon Woods, enabling low rise family friendly developments to take their place.

He introduced neighbourhood management so the housing service was more closely linked to communities and set up a Housing Liaison Team to encourage higher levels of engagement and to support tenants’ groups. Under his directorship, Nottingham became one of the first housing departments to appoint a race and housing officer, to tackle the disadvantage and discrimination sometimes experienced by black and minority ethnic communities accessing housing.

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing, he retained his longstanding personal commitment to tackling homelessness as a board member for Framework many years after his retirement.

City Council Leader, councillor David Mellen, said: “When I was first elected to the Council in 1995, Arthur was the Director of Housing and it was clear that the changes he helped implement had a lasting impact on the city.”

Former Council leader, councillor Graham Chapman was chair of Housing Committee in the first half of the 1990s and worked with Arthur for five years. He said: “Thanks to Arthur, a great deal was achieved, not least the demolition of some of the worst blocks of flats in the city and rebuilding on their sites.

“Arthur is responsible for quite a bit of the current city landscape. As much as his achievements, however, it is his personal values that I remember and appreciate. He was a real professional, with integrity and decency and care for the city. I am lucky to have known him and worked with him.”

Gill Bainbridge, the secretary of Bells Lane and Aspley Tenants and Residents Association who worked with Arthur for many years, said: “Arthur Oscroft was a quiet, conscientious, caring man. He worked hard for quality of housing in Nottingham. He didn’t try to be your friend, but his demeanour gave the impression he cared for you and therefore was a friend.

“Arthur came out to meet his tenants when needed and also delegated to his staff effectively. His committed presence at Housing Committee was valued by members, staff and spectators alike. Men with such a passion for housing and doing the right thing come along rarely. A good man will be missed by many. Thank you, Nottingham owes you so much.”

Ted Cantle who was the council’s chief executive at the time said: “Arthur was one of my top team of officers in the City Council and widely respected and admired by everyone that knew him.

“While his brief was housing, he contributed to the running of the council as whole, always willing to contribute ideas and to make things happen. And he was well known outside of Nottingham, being able to give others the benefit of his experience and expertise. He will be sadly missed and my thoughts are with his wife Yvonne and his family.”

Aileen Evans, president of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “Arthur Oscroft had a huge impact on the people of Nottingham, on countless housing professionals and on me personally. From the regeneration of Balloon Woods, Hyson Green and Basford to supporting the education and careers of so many housing professionals, he was an inspirational leader and a great champion for the power of housing to change lives.

“Nottingham City Council housing department under Arthur’s leadership was a very special place: quite definitely a place ahead of its time. The people and city of Nottingham and all those inspired by his vision to have fulfilling and rewarding careers in housing owe him a massive debt of gratitude.”

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