Inflation is running at a zillion per cent in Higher Broughton, where the cost of refurbishing a terraced house has risen 522% in eight years.
Back in 2001 a Salford Council Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment estimated repair costs per Top Street terrace as £24,894 to give a `long term life'. By 2002 a resident's notes from a consultation meeting show that the Council was quoting a top price of £39,000 to do up a terrace in a bad state of repair.
In 2007 this figure had jumped to £70,000 in a reply from a letter to the Prime Minister, passed over to the Communities and Local Government Department… "Comprehensive refurbishment of the existing property would be very substantial, estimated in the region of £17million for all 243 units" wrote the Department's Fiona McGregor (Do the maths and that's just short of £70,000 per property).
And now, the latest missive from the Council's Strategic Director for Sustainable Regeneration argues that "cost estimates received from the partnership in September 2008 indicate refurbishment costs of up to £130,000 per property. These costs are now likely to have increased due to further deterioration in the properties where refurbishment had been contemplated…"
"Contemplated"? "Contemplated"??? Councillor Peter Connor, Salford Council's Lead Member for Housing Services had actually signed a formal decision notice back in September 2006 "that the modified layout entailing the retention of 15 remodelled and refurbished houses on King Street be confirmed as the intended development proposal."
Meanwhile, the figure of £130,000 has got local builders in hysterics…
"I'd say it would cost between £50,000 and £70,000 maximum to completely refurbish even a three bed terrace in Higher Broughton" said one builder we spoke to "But £130,000 – where did they get that from? If there's a contract going I'd take it – I'll be able to retire a bit earlier!"
According to the Council, this ridiculously high cost for refurbishment now makes the retention of the last 15 houses in the Top Streets "no longer viable". Or as Salford Council Leader, John Merry, puts it…
"The level of investment needed in the houses would mean that the price at which they would have to be sold for the council to re-coup costs would be out of kilter with similar and even new properties in the area."
He adds "Early in the process a number of residents did express a desire for some properties to be retained and refurbished and we made a commitment, in good faith at the time, to look at how we could do this. Unfortunately the effects of the credit crunch on the housing market, coupled with the fact that many of the residents who originally expressed interest in this option have now moved, means there's little demand for renovated properties now, making any scheme unviable."
This means that the people who are still living in the Top Streets, who have braved it out for years while the Council has bought houses, boarded them up and left them to rot, will have to be out by October this year. Despite only 23% of residents surveyed by the Council favouring `substantial demolition', every single terraced house in the Top Streets of Higher Broughton will be bulldozed.
As a final throw of the dice to save their homes, and angry at the Council breaking its commitment to refurbish 15 houses, some residents have now taken out an injunction against Salford Council to stop the demolition. The Council won't comment on the situation "due to ongoing legal proceedings".
`Strengthening communities IN Salford' - strapline on Salford Council letters sent to residents of Higher Broughton during negotiations on bulldozing homes.
See also how Salford's District Valuer undervalued Higher Broughton property by 40%
Higher Broughton – Part 2