Back in February, surviving residents of the Top Streets in Higher Broughton got a shock when workmen turned up and began renovating some terraced houses on Cardiff Street that Salford Council had earmarked for demolition.
It turned out that it was merely a temporary measure, as the end terrace was to be used to double for Fred and Rose West's house in Cromwell Street for the ITV film, Appropriate Adult.
The tv drama, starring Emily Watson and Dominic West, was shown in September this year to critical acclaim. But the loss of over 240 houses in the Top Streets, including the famous end terrace in Cardiff Street, has met with pure criticism.
Three residents of the Top Streets had a High Court injunction which prevented Salford Council from demolishing any of the houses until they had been guaranteed alternative refurbished houses. After two years, this was lifted last month, and in October lawyers acting for SAVE Britain's Heritage wrote to Communities and Local Government Minister Eric Pickles, arguing that the whole clearance process was flawed, as no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had been carried out.
The lawyers explained that any EIA would have had to include the cultural heritage of the houses, which is underlined by film crews using the houses as sets for Coronation Street, Appropriate Adult and other dramas…
"These houses are unique surviving examples of a working class Northern neighbourhood" the lawyers explained "For this reason a proper EIA assessment would be the mechanism for the Council to consult on the cultural heritage issues and to solicit the views of statutory consultees as to the heritage value.
"By side-stepping the EIA procedure" the lawyers added "the Council relies on supposition without a full assessment in a situation which once demolition is complete would be irrevocable."
Pickles probably put the letter in the bin, and now the bulldozers have trashed the famous houses on Cardiff Street – at a time when everyone is talking about Christmas homelessness and empty properties.
For Guy Griffiths, who is one of only four surviving residents in the Top Streets, Salford Council has demolished good houses in order to bulldoze a social problem which could have been dealt with years ago…
"They've had this thing called Section 215 since around 1992 whereby they can take a house off someone or serve a notice to get it renovated, and if they'd actually used this policy they would never had let the area get into the state it had got into" he explains "There wasn't a problem with the houses as such, there was an anti-social element and if they had dealt with that, the houses would have been fine."
The drama in the Top Streets went further than Fred West…
For the full background story on the houses and Appropriate Adult click here and follow the links
See TOP STREETS DEMOLITION: PART 2