The Guardian: Living in limbo under failed housing renewal plansdemolition, empty homes, Grant Shapps
Lynsey Hanley, The Guardian,
Stalled housing regeneration schemes have caused great stress to people living in areas dominated by boarded-up houses.
The stalling of the scheme which earmarked thousands of terraces north of Birmingham for demolition in a misplaced effort to stimulate local house prices, has meant that areas which now ought to look like town planning brochures more resemble cleared bombsites. Flats and houses that were promised with replacement within two years of their demolition are still standing, tinned-up or “protected by occupation”.
Neither this nor the last government comes out of this disaster looking as though they did much to avert it. A million houses in Britain stand empty, and housebuilding remains a quarter of that in the 1960s, yet even now the romantic idea of saving a Beatle’s house captures the collective imagination more than focusing on what housing should be renovated and what ought to be replaced. (Houses on the Welsh Streets were built quickly, with no or shallow foundations, to house incoming Welsh workers in the late 19th century.)
As the head of the Empty Homes agency, David Ireland, said this week, it’s lack of money rather than lack of need that is causing a mismatch between houses available and the ability of people to move into them. Liverpool has managed to stem the flow of population out of the city in the last 10 years, but retains a services-based, low-wage economy, which means people can’t afford to buy houses even when in work.