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Sink estates will be 'knocked down'

Tom Wall13/01/2016 - 13:00

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The prime minister David Cameron has unveiled plans to replace the worst ‘sink estates’ with what he calls ‘attractive and safe homes’.

Mr Cameron said the government would work with 100 run-down council estates across the country to either radically transform them or knock them down in order to improve the life chances of the most disadvantaged.

‘For decades, sink estates – and frankly, sometimes the people who lived in them – had been seen as something simply to be managed. It’s time to be more ambitious at every level,’ he said in a speech this week.

‘The mission here is nothing short of social turnaround, and with massive estate regeneration, tenants protected, and land unlocked for new housing all over Britain, I believe we can tear down anything that stands in our way.’

A new estate regeneration advisory panel will be chaired by Lord Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister. It will report in detail by this year’s autumn statement.

A new £140m fund will also be created to jump-start regeneration projects.

The announcement comes as a government commissioned report from property group Savills claims hundreds of thousands of new homes can be built on London estates.

However Richard Turkington, a housing consultant, who has 25 years experience working on regeneration projects, questioned the financial basis of the plans to replace the estates outside London.

‘It is dependant of land prices being maintaining and possibly increasing. It only stacks up in London. I doubt you could get this to work anywhere north of Oxford.’

He added that the £140m pledged by the government was nowhere near enough to fund estate regeneration projects.

‘It might enable you to kick-start the process but it won’t enable you to anything physical,’ he said.

He also took issue with the prime minister equating particular architectural styles with poverty, joblessness and deprivation.

‘Equating a built form with social malaise is banal,’ he said.

‘If its public sector high-rise then it’s bad. If it’s private sector high-rise then it's good. You call one a “tower block” and the other “high rise living”.’

He urged the government to take ‘holistic’ approach to regeneration covering housing, education and social provision.

‘If you going to look at buildings and the lives of the people who live in them, brilliant, bring it on. But if this is going to be led by housing, then this is really retrograde stuff,’ he said.

Bob Mayho, CIEH principal policy officer, told EHN there were questions over whether role of the estate regeneration strategy advisory panel was about seizing high value land in city centres ripe for redevelopment, or as a revival of regeneration.

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890 days ago
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This never was going to stack up financially. It sounds like a sop to handing land over to private developers for more modern, proably higher density housing, with some 'affordable' homes thrown in. The develolper has to make a substantial profit of course, as that's only fair. It demonstrates how out of touch the government is with regeneration realities, and the real world. Will the problems disappear just because 'troubled families', or others in high need, are rehoused in new accommodation? (assuming they can afford any top up on the new rent). It reminds me of an exam question set by the IEOH as it was back in the '70s - viz, 'Are the slums, the houses or the people? Discuss.........'. I guess the government are showing that they've not learnt much during the intervening decades of area improvement and regeneration, or neighbourhood partnerships. Or perhaps the 'right-to-buy' is being extended by the back door by the right to redevelop privately those estates that are so poor, nobody can afford to buy, even at the discount on offer.......? There must be a better way of spending these public funds; don't be surprised if the Chief Executive of the new EGA Panel will earn a six figure salary and drive a lease car, with a pension to match......I'd rather see all available money going on direct capital spending to improve existing poor stock; most authories know their stock, and what needs improving and how.........knocking down and rebuilding is a very expensive option which should be the very last resort.Or much better just to simply build some new extra public sector homes which we're all desperate for with the available funds, surely? Anyway, I thought non-decent public sector homes were all meant to have been dealt with by 2010 with all that cash that was available before the recession hit? Or the extra funding that was given for those few properties still in Council ownership that hadnt' quite made it, in 2011/12?

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