In the Top Streets of Higher Broughton, 108 houses are currently being bulldozed at a cost of £280,000. The whole area is being flattened with no developer in sight, and the houses include a stunning old dairy and double fronted properties as well as streets full of well built terraced houses (see here for further details).
Three residents still living in Devonshire Street and Cardiff Street have a High Court order on Salford Council stopping demolition of their own houses and twenty other houses which the Council had promised to refurbish, before going back on the agreement, stating that it was `economically unviable'. Now some landmark court cases maybe changing the game completely.
The cases have been brought by the SAVE Britain's Heritage group in Lancaster and Gateshead and revolved around the Government's Demolition Directive which meant that councils didn't have to get planning permission (outside conservation areas) to demolish whole areas of housing.
SAVE challenged this in the courts, won and now nearly all demolition work will have to get planning permission, which will mean councils explaining in some detail exactly why they're knocking down houses without developers on board to build new houses. They will also be required to properly examine alternatives to demolition, including renovation and refurbishment.
The rulings will also force councils to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) if the demolition is likely to have an effect on the local environment, thanks to the European Environmental Impact Assessment Directive which was previously ignored.
The first results of these court rulings have been felt in the Welsh Streets of Liverpool, where the controversial demolition of 200 houses (including Ringo Starr's old home) has been stopped by Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, pending an EIA and a new full planning application for the demolition.
"This is a massively important decision which could spell the end of fast-tracked mass demolitions" says William Palin, Secretary of SAVE "At last, Liverpool Council's draconian approach to flattening neighbourhoods without full planning scrutiny, has been challenged. This will finally force the council to look at alternatives to demolition and we hope that this will open the way for individuals, housing co-ops and developers to take on and renovate these houses and reverse years of council-sponsored decline."
It might be too late for the hundreds of terraced houses already needlessly knocked down by Salford Council as part of the Pathfinder programme. But for those streets still standing and for heritage buildings under threat there is now a chance of salvation.
"It has been obscene to see authorities acquire, evict, devalue and demolish thousands of Victorian terraced houses without even submitting a full planning application, simply so the land they stand on can be handed to development driven quangos for private profit" says planning specialist and Pathfinder resident Jonathan Brown of Merseyside Civic Society.
"For the sake of over twenty thousand people on Liverpool's waiting list, and millions more in acute housing need across Britain, we must hope this drives away the long shadow cast by the great housing market renewal scandal" he adds "and will lead to the renovation of thousands of good, solid Victorian terraces written-off by Pathfinder as obsolete."
In the Top Streets of Higher Broughton the residents' case for refurbishment grows stronger every day… Meanwhile those looking to save the Langworthy Hotel and other heritage sites will be taking some comfort too.
See Salford Star's Pathfinder Public Inquiry Call – click here and here
See Tinned Up, the play of the Pathfinder mess, at The Lowry June 30th - July 2nd: click here
SAVE has actually bought a house in Madryn Street, Liverpool, to try and stop the demolitions - see The House That Refused To Die blog - click here
HIGHER BROUGHTON IN BLOOM
See our summer photo album of the Top Streets in bloom…
a) The Hanging Gardens of King Street
b) Roof Gardens of King Street
c) Residents did ask for gardens in Cardiff Street
d) Gated alleyways spring into bloom in Cardiff Street and King Street
e) Gated alleyways spring into bloom in Cardiff Street and King Street
f) Flowers for the double unsolved murder of Vikki and Rhona – a memorial garden might be a good idea
g) Original £250,000 SRB idea to put trees on the streets – before demolition
h) The Top Streets Prairies
i) Er, Vodka in bloom
j) The demolitions continue...
k) Top Streets Prairies with new `community hub' in background
Main photo shows a poppy in the Top Streets