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Housing estates set for demolition to ‘design out poverty’ – Cameron

Nearly 100 run-down housing estates could be bulldozed to tackle entrenched poverty, prime minister David Cameron has announced.

Cameron said dilapidated ‘sink estates’ can give rise to criminals and drug dealers by “designing in” these elements through “concrete slabs dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers and dark alleyways”.

“The police often talk about the importance of designing out crime, but these estates actually designed it in,” he said in an article for the Sunday Times. “Decades of neglect have led to gangs, ghettos and anti-social behaviour. And poverty has become entrenched, because those who could afford to move have understandably done so.”

But the prime minister vowed not to repeat the “failed attempts” to regenerate estates, which he said were fuelled by a “raft of pointless planning rules, local politics and tenants’ concerns about whether regeneration would be done fairly”.

To amend this, he has set up a new Estate Regeneration Advisory Panel, chaired by former deputy PM Lord Heseltine, to oversee the scheme by first building a list of post-war estates that are “ripe for redevelopment”.

Due to report back in this year’s Autumn Statement, the panel will work with up to 100,000 residents to draft regeneration plans.

“For some, this will simply mean knocking them down and starting again,” he said. “For others, it might mean changes to layout, upgrading facilities and improving local road and transport links. The panel will also establish a set of binding guarantees for tenants and homeowners so that they are protected.”

The scheme will be supported by a £140m fund designed to “pump-prime the planning process, temporary housing and early construction costs”.

An Estates Regeneration Strategy, not yet published, will also scrap “planning blockages” and take steps to reduce “political and reputational risk” for investors and decision-makers involved in the projects.

“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,” the prime minister continued.

“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.”

Reiterating plans during the Andrew Marr show on BBC1, Cameron said it is time to factor in “massive private sector and perhaps pension sector” money to help government-funded plans to demolish the worst sink estates. He also pledged to safeguard both ‘affordable to buy’ and ‘affordable to rent’ type properties.

But Locality chief executive Tony Armstrong warned that regeneration plans must primarily focus on supporting those living in the estates, including by learning lessons from the past to ensure people's lives are truly improved.

“Locality members, most of whom operate in challenging areas, are the cornerstones of these neighbourhoods and have seen regeneration attempts come and go, with mixed success. They know from experience that we need a multi-faceted approach to regeneration which is underpinned by community ownership of assets, and looks at wider social issues and promotes people’s ability to help themselves, as well as community-wide action,” he said.

“Communities owning and managing local assets - like community centres, housing stock, leisure facilities and health centres - are crucial in successful regeneration schemes. People in the neighbourhood have control over what happens there and benefit from any income generated as it is reinvested in the local community. 

“A focus on supporting the people living in these estates, rather than just the bricks and mortar, is essential in helping these neighbourhoods thrive.”

According to the Guardian, some of the housing developments being targeted include the Winstanley estate in Wandsworth, south London, the Lower Falinge estate in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, and Broadwater Farm in Tottenham, north London.

(Top image c. Gareth Fuller, PA Images)


Cllr Alan Webb   11/01/2016 at 12:07

Yet another way of scrapping any SOCIAL HOUSING ok agree with the fact some are very run down WHO'S fault councils have to deal with this NOOSE around their knecks unable to carry out or plan far to many CONSTRICTION'S with cut's on cut's on cut's buying your own home is only for the FEW having some where to life with in their mean's,PRIVATE SECTOR HUGE RENT COST'S inable thousands to save for their own the plan's are far to whooley yet gives the bully boys even more power to take over and develope against peoples wishes.

Tom Bricks   11/01/2016 at 12:12

There is a difference between designing out poverty and designing out those in poverty.

Hod Birkby   11/01/2016 at 15:48

On the face of it, this is a good idea that should've been thought of and started years ago. But let's not kid our selves, this going to take time and a huge amount of money; money we just haven't got. And I'm worried that if it does go ahead, it is such a huge task, that it will be open to all sorts of corruption.

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