Star date: 17th June 2014

A Salford Star Exclusive


Councillor John Warmisham, former Lead Member for Housing on Salford Council, has criticised Urban Splash for its multi-award winning upside down housing scheme at Chimney Pot Park in Langworthy.

Talking to the Salford Star, Warmisham says that the scheme was a `gimmick' and is now is an unfinished `eyesore' and a `disgrace', with work done on the houses not up to standard. "Residents have been let down" he fumes…

Full details here…

Urban Splash Chimney Pot Park Eyesore Urban Splash Chimney Pot Park Eyesore Urban Splash Chimney Pot Park Eyesore
Urban Splash Chimney Pot Park Eyesore Urban Splash Chimney Pot Park Eyesore Langworthy and Seedley Regeneration
Salford Star Issue 2 Urban Splash Special Salford Star Issue 2 Urban Splash Special Salford Star Issue 2 Urban Splash Special
click image to enlarge

A couple of weeks after his re-election as councillor for Langworthy, John Warmisham stands in Chimney Pot Park looking down on the nationally acclaimed `upside down' terraced houses that were supposed to regenerate the area, financed with around £20million of public money.

From the Park you can see behind the permanent graffiti covered hoardings and barbed wire that have fronted the scheme for years, hiding the mess of unfinished houses and building rubble.

"As a ward councillor it's one of my biggest frustrations" he says "If you look across the road at the people who live there, they've had to put up with hoardings for years, it's disgraceful. And every time I've attacked Urban Splash there's always been some sort of excuse

"I just find it abysmal that someone who tweets all the time about the awards they are winning, and they're doing this and that, have left this in Salford unfinished, and the people who live across the road from it with an eyesore for fifteen years" the former Salford Council Lead Member for Housing adds "It's disgraceful…."

It was in 2006 that the `upside down' terraced houses came on the market in a blaze of publicity and controversy. The Urban Splash scheme was hyped to the heavens and people from all over the country queued overnight to advance purchase one of the `reinvented' houses.

Meanwhile, local people who had been promised affordable housing found that the houses cost three times above what was considered affordable at the time, with an average price of £120,000. The second printed edition of the Salford Star produced a fifteen page special on the history of the scheme, the secrecy of the public money involved and the angry community reaction.

Local MP Hazel Blears, then a Government Minister who had introduced fellow Government Minister John Prescott and Urban Splash svengali Tom Bloxham to Salford, had announced that the Chimney Pot Park houses would "create exciting, affordable homes and help boost the regeneration of Seedley and Langworthy".

That now sounds like a hollow joke – testified by the not-so-much upside down but tangled mess of terraced houses left by Urban Splash, and the empty grass crofts across Langthworthy Road where family houses were demolished to make way for the `exciting' regeneration.

"It's been horrendous" John Warmisham says "My message to residents of Langworthy and Seedley is that Urban Splash has let them down."

The hype surrounding the Chimney Pot Park houses, which won 16 awards, is still being sustained. This month the Irish Independent, under the headline `The Man Who Saved Coronation Street', was still lauding the development and its creator, Tom Bloxham, who told the newspaper "The secret to providing homes that people want is to keep the quality high – across the board."

But Warmisham reveals that the quality of the houses themselves leaves a lot to be desired…

"A few people have had problems, and the management company, Plumlife, has done a bit of work with the residents but as ward councillors we've had to get involved and really push because some people have been really let down I feel."

He lists the building problems… "water ingress, some of the interior stuff is not up to the standard it should be, there's parking issues, car crime because of the way the car parking has been done…"

Meanwhile, along the back of the development, Great Places housing group took on some of the derelict streets left by Urban Splash a few years ago and built similar looking affordable houses; but at the front, facing Langworthy Road, the failure is there for all to see. Now Salford City Council is trying to pick up the pieces, get the land back off Urban Splash and find a new developer.

"The last meeting we had of the Regeneration Board stated that they are very close in negotiations in returning it to the Council, then we can really look at motoring and get something built on there" says Warmisham "As far as I know there are no fees in place. The legalities are down to Urban Vision and the Council and then we'll know what monies are involved."

Urban Splash paid the Council nothing for the land, got millions of pounds of public money to develop it and, Warmisham says, didn't pay a penny back off the profits it made selling the upside down houses it did build, despite complicated and secret `overage' payments agreed with the Council.

"They've not got the money to redevelop it and I think that if we get it back we can get into negotiations with other developers, or with a social landlord who can get money through the Housing Corporation, and look at top end market rent" he explains "There won't be affordable housing in this bit.

"You need that frontage, and that's what I've always fought for since I became the ward councillor, to try and get it finished off" he adds "That's one of my frustrations as a councillor – that we as a Council sometimes start these regeneration schemes, the money runs out and you can't finish it off…"

It's the story of Salford going back generations. There's a whole history of failed regenerations, from Hanky Park to Lower Kersal

"As a proud Salfordian" he replies "I can't put my finger on it…"

Is it because regeneration only works in favour of the developers and consultants?

"As an ordinary ward councillor that is the frustration at times, that money has been there but it has been frittered away using the wrong consultants doing the wrong plans…"

The Urban Splash upside down houses at Chimney Pot Park had £20million public money thrown at it under a veil of secrecy and deals. It was a hype and a gimmick that has gone horribly wrong because, it seems, that as soon as the public money ran out so did the developer…

"Of course it was a gimmick" Councillor Warmisham agrees "And if you look at New Islington in Manchester it's the same story…but at the time it was the only game in town"

Pointing to the old houses on Langworthy Road, he adds "but for me, I care about those people, it's unacceptable."

And turning to face the rubble behind the graffiti covered hoardings and barbed wire he decides "I'm not a negative person…I'll keep fighting until we can get the monies for it…."

* The Salford Star asked Urban Splash to respond to Councillor Warmisham's comments. The company didn't reply.


** The full article, including some of the more positive aspects of the regeneration of Langworthy and Seedley will appear in the new printed issue of Salford Star in September.

 See also previous Salford Star `The Bubble's Burst Award' click here

Main photo shows Councillor John Warmisham

Photos by Steven Speed

at 18:47:34 on 08 July 2014
Has he gone to ground or left the country-he seems to be off the radar at the minute
at 11:43:38 on 08 July 2014
What is this man bleating about? He makes my blood boil! All this pathetic handwringing from the man who brought us the Jill Baker scandal and didn't have the decency or honesty to resign for his catastrophic lead member involvement-who is one of the clique of the Salford Cllr heavy brigade...and is in the thick of every decision the council makes. Does he seriously want us to believe that he isn't a massive part of the problems created? Why is he backtracking, he was on numerous governing panels/regeneration boards when the regen money and US was sloshing around,lording it over the residents who raised all of the above concerns well before he ever put his head above the parapet. If he didn't know the implications of what he was agreeing to then I'm the man in the moon! Since day 1 the CPP issues have been regularly raised by both the residents of CPP and Langworthy Rd, so hes come late on the bandwagon. Of course he is culpable for the mess that is Langworthy, and to boot a clingon of the highest order
at 19:49:33 on 24 June 2014
John does a fair bit of tweeting himself-don't think I've ever once seen a tweet that reflects his anger over the shambolic, shameful destruction of Langworthy Rd
Has the red rose of labour been poisoned by the hand of Ian Stewart wrote
at 19:33:26 on 20 June 2014
Can the salford star put on this site what Nigel pivaro did for the bbc northwest programme a number of years ago about langworthy, bet a lot of people in salford mist-it first time round. Shown how this labour council under john merry socially cleansed the langworthy area of its community and the people who were born and bread there
Is democracy dead in salford wrote
at 19:33:21 on 20 June 2014
Always amazed me how the salford Labour Party destroyed Salford's communities then spent millions trying to replicate them, the old adage spring to mind if it ain't broken don't try to fix it, typical salford labour councillors, meddling trying to justify their existence and over paid salaries.
Salford Star wrote
at 13:52:44 on 20 June 2014
See wrote's comment below - thanks for your comments. Like we stated this is just the first bit of a much larger article on Langworthy that will go into the print issue, which includes most of the points you raised about the schools, new housing, shops and crofts together with Cllr Warmisham's comments. If you would like to be interviewed for it please contact us info@salfordstar.com
at 13:46:00 on 20 June 2014
The Langworthy Rd area has been in a state of regeneration for years. The CPP development is only one small issue in the mish mash of Langworthy Rd planning faux pas. Packing houses into such a small area is not the answer. The ward Cllrs should open their eyes to utter chaos being inflicted on the rest of the residents, not only CPParkers You only have to look around to see the impact of bad design and planning. Who on earth thought it was a good idea to build new houses almost directly onto main roads (see top Langworthy Rd, Fitzwarren St, Liverpool St) hardly much thought given to clean air or childrens health with all that heavy traffic. Highfield Rd has become a virtual highway by having to service the traffic flow in and out of Langworthy North and Fitzwarren St. On Jubilee St cars are always parked on the footpaths so you have walk on the Rd in oncoming traffic. Emmanuel church still incomplete....new schools too small to facilitate the areas requirements....no new green spaces....the list goes on. Cllrs don't have to be applauded for doing the job they're elected and paid for...if they championed the issues in their ward and stopped towing the party line people would have more faith in the political system
Inside Labour Camp wrote
at 13:42:44 on 20 June 2014
Nice one John. If you are looking to join UKiP this sets the scene for a wipe out of Labour. Unite union siege taking over Labour (yes, Unite already putting up candidates for Salford MP seat) means rocking the boat will seal end of Salford Labour's cushy council.
Salford onion wrote
at 22:36:15 on 19 June 2014
These houses were built wit the aid of a substantial grant from salford Council. When they went on sale absentee landlords who worked for urban Crash bought the property . Scary Spicer knew that the publi purse had been abused but as usual under her regime of alleged incompetence and bullying nothing was done!wihotin
Peter Rennie wrote
at 22:35:53 on 19 June 2014
Once again Salford Council could not find their own backsides if they were sat on them . So Mr Warmingsham is disgusted with what has happened in Langworthy , no shit, if they were built in 2006 why was nobody appointed to monitor this project to see that our money was being used correctly , why for god's has it been left to fester for 8 years ? Every labour voter who voted these people back in should be sent a copy of this report and weep !. They are just like Thatcher selling off the family silver .
David cameron wrote
at 19:19:48 on 18 June 2014
Has warmisham had permission from Ian Stewart to appear on this site, or are the labour councillors getting a bit rebellious now hazel Blears is going to take on Ian Stewart at the next mayoral election for salford. What's warmisham going to do for the people of langworthy who had their homes stolen under compulsory purchase orders, can't stop laughing at the warmisham quote " Pointing to the old houses on Langworthy Road, he adds "but for me, I care about those people, it's unacceptable." When did this labour council ever care about the people of salford, they spent every waking day trying to sell salford to their multi million pound friends like peel holdings, sorry warmisham don't start saying sorry when you've sold the salford people down the river. We don't trust you or your labour councillor friends, if you want to say sorry, then resign. Well said Mary ferrer
B.N.V. Lope wrote
at 13:12:02 on 18 June 2014
So Urban Smash got the land for NOTHING ? This land belongs to the Salford Taxpayer , not the grubby council. They have no right giving our land away to some equally grubby business chums . Sewerat had better explain this .
Lead Member wrote
at 09:32:15 on 18 June 2014
Councillor Warmisham was the lead member for housing at the time of the decision was taken to go ahead with this plan. He was also the the lead member when the decision was made regarding Higher Broughton in 2003.
Andy wrote
at 09:32:04 on 18 June 2014
Mary and Joe are correct. The disgraceful mess known as Salford is the fault of the self-serving council , and theirs alone. They are wholly responsible . From obstinate secrecy , ignoring the electorate , thwarting all meaningful democratic process just to serve their own ends , to obscene arrogance , self-importance , pomposity and duplicity . These inept goons have ruined this city , and squandered vast amounts of money in the process. It is shameful , and unacceptable . Salford Clowncil deserve every criticism they get , and much more . I shall be writing to Pickles regarding the activities of the Salford Shysters , and would urge others to do the same . An investigation into this lot is long overdue .
Sack Them All wrote
at 09:31:59 on 18 June 2014
Yet another fine example of the disgracefully inept activities of Clueless Salford Clowncil. They couldn't be trusted to run a market stall . Yes , they destroyed Salford market by their clueless and inept interference , too . They should be sacked for gross incompetence .
mary ferrer wrote
at 06:54:30 on 18 June 2014
Think Councillor Warmisham has been the councillor for Langworthy since the boundry changes in 2004. I am glad he is speaking out, its about time he did something pro active for the ward and for that matter the city. Its down to the council this mess and all the other cockups in this city. We all can make mistakes,but again and again is a bit much. The area got millions for regeneration. How much of it went on the area and how much was spent on hairy fairy projects? The Langworthy pub comes to mind. Then we have the park. They knock walls down leaving the upside down house's open to all sorts of crime. So they have to rethink that idea. All costing money. This council has a habit of doing first then thinking after. I am glad Councillor Warmisham has spoken out.But he should have done so a long time ago. After all its his ward,he was on duty at the time.
Joe O'Neill wrote
at 06:53:41 on 18 June 2014
Surely the final word must go to the Salford Star and a quote from the then Labour Leader John Merry. “I think we’re renewing the heart of Salford” he said “because a lot of the properties were already abandoned and derelict and we’re trying to bring them back to life and bring prosperity to the area.” Later on John Merry added… “I think that in five year’s time people will come to see the wisdom of the decisions that we actually made…” With one year to go, we’re still struggling to see that wisdom…
J Kaye wrote
at 06:52:57 on 18 June 2014
He does not deserve any salute. Mary is quite correct . The gross ineptitude and lack of any business acumen from this gang of secretive idiots is finally being exposed for public scrutiny . This bunch of clowns should have been booted out years ago . The responsibility for the disgraceful mess this city is in is down to them , and them alone. An independent inquiry into the activities of these clowncillors is long overdue .
Stuart Hall wrote
at 06:52:29 on 18 June 2014
Well said Mary, I totally agree with you, and I think Cllr Warmisham is now trying to score points and trying to show he suddenly cares. Salford Star states he was not a councillor at the time, but please correct me if I am wrong, Cllr Warmisham has been in office at least 2 terms, which would cover this period. If he was a lead member for housing he should have known what was going on.
Salford Resident wrote
at 06:51:36 on 18 June 2014
Salford Star is correct, Mr Warmisham was (if I am correct) employed by Salford Council at the time of signing of Chimney Pot Park outline plan 2003 (see link below). John W did not become a Langworthy Councillor for (Labour) until 2004. Maybe Labour Councillors from the time can give us their comment on the project. Christoper Beaumont (Labour) elected 2000 / Andrew Salmon (Labour) was elected 2002. Andrew Leaston (Labour) was elected 2002. Joining John Warmisham (Labour) in 2004 was re-elected Andrew Salmon (Labour) 2004 and Jane Hepworth (Labour) elected 2004. Sorry but please remind us again just who are we saluting here? http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110118095356 http://www.cabe.org.uk/case-studies/chimney-pot-park/design
Salford Star wrote
at 19:12:35 on 17 June 2014
See Mary's comment below...To be fair, Mary, John Warmisham wasn't the Langworthy councillor at the time. And to also be fair to him, at least he's going public on the mess...which is very brave as we've been trying to find out what the hell has been going on there for years. Credit where credit is due. Councillor Warmisham, we salute you!
mary ferrer wrote
at 19:02:41 on 17 June 2014
Councillor Warmisham, you say "you can't put your finger on it". Well take a look at your fellow Labour Councillors. They are the ones who have allowed this to happen.You and your tribe of idiots must have given planning permission for this. As you gave the land for free, did you not think of putting some form of a contract together. As the ward Councillor did you not question what was happening in your ward. Did you not speak up for your residents.People were paid peanuts for their homes, promised affordable houses and what have they got? So Councillor don't think you have far to look at how this has happened.You and your fellow councillors have been getting it wrong for years and years and havent learned from your mistakes and will carry on making a cockup at everything you lot touch.
Inside Labour Camp wrote
at 12:40:47 on 17 June 2014
If this is true why not do the honorable thing and resign?
Kim wrote
at 12:40:38 on 17 June 2014
More secret deals ? Democracy in this city is a non-existent farce. The self-serving bastards that infest the council have much to answer for to the shafted citizens of this Dead City . .
Salford Resident wrote
at 12:40:21 on 17 June 2014
In view of the Councillor comment I will today write to The District Auditor for an investigation to ask if Salford Council or Staff were negligent in any part of developments. This could open the gate to demand surcharging all Salford Councillors in their collective decision if that £20million was wasted.
alan davies wrote
at 12:40:12 on 17 June 2014
Nothing changes in Salford,its one cock-up after another..
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