New Benefits Street in Stockton-on-Tees is given a makeover by canny housing association before the new show hits our screens
A housing group has been slammed after giving homes on the new ‘Benefit Street‘ a makeover – just weeks before it airs on TV.
The new series of the Channel 4 show was filmed on Kingston Road in Stockton, Teesside.
But this week a fleet of builders and vans moved in and scaffolding put up along an entire row.
Homes in the downtrodden road were treated to a fresh coat of exterior paint and masonry repairs – and large piles of rubbish removed.
Pictures show scaffolding in place and the houses being painted with a fresh coat of magnolia – a sharp comparison to the tired rust and beige colours of before.
The local council claim the work had been pre-arranged before it was chosen as the new ‘Benefit Street‘.
But locals say they believe the houses have been suddenly done up so it looks good when it attracts the ‘poverty tourism’ the series is said to generate.
Residents have slammed the facelift saying the estate – owned by local housing group Thirteen Group – will look “completely different” when the show airs.
Locals also fear it will attract the wrong kind of tourist.
The program has faced fierce criticism since being aired in 2014 starring James Turner Street in Birmingham, with critics accusing producers of creating “poverty tourism”.
Nearby resident Mike Swift said Kingston Road was known to be “a bit rough”, adding that the local authority were worried about how the series would portray the town.
Mr Swift said: “It’s normally quite a grotty street. The front gardens were filled with all sorts of rubbish.
“One house had a balcony with a sofa on it. There were bikes just lying in the street left there by children.
“When it comes on TV next month the actual street will look completely different. It’s almost as if [the council] know they’re going to get people coming and looking.
“They were annoyed when it came out Channel 4 were filming there, worried it was portrayed as a bad area.”
The street was flooded with vans and men in hardhats working long hours, as they also renovated porches and were all hands on deck.
Work continued on other streets nearby Kingston Road, which were also used in the filming of the new benefits shaming series, with about ten men busying away on each street.
Stockton-on-Tees Council has denied the renovations were in response to the program, saying the work was scheduled before series producers moved in.
A spokesman for the authority said local development group Thirteen Group were carrying out the facelift.
“The reality is it is planned work scheduled in advance of the programme”, he said.
Leader of Stockton Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “We did everything in our power to persuade the producers of Benefits Street to turn their attentions elsewhere. Sadly, you can’t win them all.
“Lots of people agreed with us that this is not a good thing for the Borough.”
A spokesperson for Thirteen Group who own the houses and are in charge of the developments said:
“The ongoing investment in our properties is planned well in advance and any inference that the filming of any TV programme could influence this is completely untrue.”