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David Cameron: Tear down failed social housing estates

I just received the following tip from Audun Engh:
Prime Minister David Cameron on the social problems caused by modernist planning ideology:
- "you’re often confronted by concrete slabs as if dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers and linked walkways that become a gift to criminals and drug dealers.These places actually design in crime, rather than out.
So I can announce today: we’re going to tear them down."

"Yolande Barnes, Savills Research Director, said:
What the Savills research shows is that housing estates can deliver more homes and be made into better neighbourhoods by re-integrating them into the wider street network and creating or repairing the streetscape.
This creates more highly valued neighbourhoods. The signs are that new developments of ‘complete streets’ cost less to build than conventional estate renewal."
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Excerpt from David Cameron´s  speech on "Life Changes", held 11 January 2016.

"Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech on life chances, explaining how the government intends to transform the lives of the poorest in Britain".

"There is also an important issue of community that we must address – and that’s some of our housing estates.
Some of these places, especially those built after the war, actually entrench poverty, because of the way they isolate and entrap so many families and communities.
Within these estates, behind front doors, families build warm and welcoming homes just like everyone else.
But step outside and you’re often confronted by concrete slabs as if dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers and linked walkways that become a gift to criminals and drug dealers.
These places actually design in crime, rather than out.
Decades of neglect have spawned ghettos, gangs and anti-social behaviour.
And poverty has become concentrated, because let’s face it – few who could afford to move would want to stay.
Of course, these estates also lead to social segregation, meaning people from different backgrounds just don’t mix together as much as they used to.
And that isn’t good for anyone.
I think it’s time to be far more ambitious about solving this problem.
So I can announce today: we’re going to tear them down.
We are going to work with 100 housing estates across the country, aiming to transform them.
We’ll work in partnership with residents, housing associations, local authorities, social enterprises and private developers, and sweep away the barriers that prevent regeneration.
For some estates, it will mean simply knocking them down and starting again.
Developers will rebuild often at a higher density, increasing housing supply throughout the country.
And to help us get there, we’ll appoint an advisory panel whose first job will be to establish a set of binding guarantees for tenants and homeowners, so that they know they are properly protected.
With massive estate regeneration, tenants protected, land unlocked for new housing all over Britain, I believe we can truly consign the term ‘sink estate’ to history. ".
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There is a good chance that the failed estates will be replaced by new mixed-use, socially inclusive developments based on the best European urban design traditions, not more of the same; "innovative" modernism. See the press release from Downing Street 10, below.
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Press release, 10 January 2016:

Prime Minister pledges to transform sink estates


David Cameron will announce that some of the country’s most run-down housing estates will be replaced with attractive and safe homes

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  • country’s worst housing estates to be removed and replaced with safe and attractive homes for residents
  • comprehensive approach to estate regeneration to be created
  • new £140 million fund to jump-start regeneration projects
  • Prime Minister: Time to end ‘decades of neglect’ to aid social reform
Some of the country’s most run-down housing estates will be replaced with attractive and safe homes – Prime Minister David Cameron will announce today.
As part of a comprehensive package of measures to end poverty and improve the life chances of the most disadvantaged, the government will work with 100 housing estates across the country to either radically transform them or, in the worst cases, knock them down and replace them with high-quality homes.
Within these so-called sink estates, behind front doors, families build warm and welcoming homes.
But step outside in the worst estates and you’re confronted by brutal high-rise towers and dark alleyways that are a gift to criminals.
Decades of neglect have led to gangs and anti-social behaviour. And poverty has become entrenched, because those who could afford to move have understandably done so.
Secretary of State Greg Clark will say:
We know the worst estates offer huge potential to be revived so that they become thriving communities and places which people want to live and work in.
That’s why we’re so determined to kick-start work which will benefit the lives of thousands of people by providing high quality homes.
To help tackle the problem the nationwide strategy will be supported by a new Estate Regeneration Advisory Panel, which will be chaired by Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister who has long championed the regeneration of Britain’s inner cities. The Panel will report in detail by this year’s Autumn Statement.
The Prime Minister’s announcement comes ahead of a report from property advisor Savills which will show the approach to regeneration could help catalyse the building of hundreds of thousands of new homes in London alone.
In his speech on improving life chances, the Prime Minister will say:
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 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.
Yolande Barnes, Savills Research Director, said:
What the Savills research shows is that housing estates can deliver more homes and be made into better neighbourhoods by re-integrating them into the wider street network and creating or repairing the streetscape.
This creates more highly valued neighbourhoods. The signs are that new developments of ‘complete streets’ cost less to build than conventional estate renewal.

Notes to editors

Successful regeneration schemes have helped revive some of the most deprived estates. These include:
  • Woodberry Down in Hackney London which used to be one of the most struggling estates in London but is now on the way to being home to 5,500 new ones (with 41% for social renting and shared ownership)
  • Packington Estate in Islington, London has been transformed from a place with 538 structurally defective flats into a thriving community which now provides 791 mixed-tenure houses and flats. (491 of the new homes are for social rent, 135 of which are 3, 4, 5 and 6 bedroom family homes)
The Savills report was commissioned by the Cabinet Office and is an important contribution to the debate on housing and estate regeneration, but it is not an officially approved document or a statement of government policy. As such, not all views contained within it may be supported by the government.
Britain is building again with the number of new homes up 25% in the past year and revived estates will play an important part in providing good quality social and affordable housing, and offering a million people the chance to achieve their dream.
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Audun Engh
CEU Council for European Urbanism, Norway.

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