Blighted homes

March 29th, 2010

Long before residents of council estates under threat stand any chance of being rehoused into the new part of phased redevelopments there is a significant danger of them becoming “the dispossessed” – those unfortunates scattered about a former estate in the midst of abandonment, vermin infestation, squatters and burned out flats.  If it were only a one off that would be worrying enough but there is clear evidence that carelessness and lack of consideration for the tenants by the councils is commonplace.

Fulham Court

“Between 1982 and 1986 the Tory/Liberal coalition council emptied most of the 400+  flats in Fulham Court with a view to selling it to a private developer for refurbishment as private flats. Tenants were re-housed by going to the top of the waiting list which meant the rest of the borough’s tenants had a lower priority.  A spirited campaign by tenants including marches and legal actions and the decision by a group of tenants to stick it out meant that by the time the Tories lost power in 1986 there were still residents in some blocks.  By that time some of the estate had been sold to the developer and the rest was dilapidated – empty flats were boarded up, only essential maintenance had been done and lack of care by the council meant there was squatting, fly tipping and infestation.  Labour cut a deal with the developer to buy back what was sold and refurbished the whole estate as council homes, as it has remained since.”

Andy Slaughter MP

That was then but now the estate is under threat again from the Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Stephen Greenhalgh and his plans to rid the borough of council tenants.

Pressure from councillors can’t persuade Bristol City Council to buy run-down flats

“The place looks appalling. It is unsellable due to the council moving most people out, bricking up doorways and the local yobs smashing the windows.

“I would sell up tomorrow given the chance, but have been told the council no longer buys back property.”

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Pressure-councillors-t-persuade-Bristol-City-Council-buy-run-flats/article-577071-detail/article.html

Council defends cost of derelict site

The council decided to spend £2.5 million on refurbishing the flats in 2005 but subsequently decided they might not have a ‘sustainable future’ and put this decision on hold. It has since become part of a major re-development plan in the city.

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/story.aspx?storycode=6509140

Ferrier Estate

The empty homes have not been cleared of rubbish but the windows and doors are being removed thereby not only leaving these properties open to the elements but also open to vermin. as a result pigeons, squirrels, rats and mice infest certain parts of the estate.  As more and more homes are emptied areas of the estate become more and more desolate, and residents living in isolated pockets have an increased fear of crime.

 

UPDATE

Developer Berkeley has seen funding frozen on 12 projects, as part of a freeze on the £214 million kickstart budget ahead of the June 22 emergency budget. This includes funding for the 449-home first phase of the regeneration of the high-profile Ferrier estate in Greenwich.

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/ihstory.aspx?storycode=6510079

Where do the dispossessed live now?

UPDATE: This weeks Building Design magazine (01/10/2010) has an excellent leader on why regeneration of estates is going wrong.  In part many of the points it makes tie in with what I’ve written above, and it goes on to mention both the London Plan and an organisation fighting these problems called Just Space which itself is formed of many other community groups.

“Without the kind of commitments that Just space is demanding “regeneration” is almost certain to prove no more than a smokescreen for gentrification, exacerbating the very problems of social exclusion we need it to address.”

UPDATE: Ferrier presents a vivid illustration of how not to regenerate an estate:-

http://www.kidbrookekite.co.uk/2010/10/ferrier-estate-october-2010.html

UPDATE: See my walkabout report from the Ferrier August 19th 2011

http://www.singleaspect.org.uk/?p=8090

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