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Star date: 20th August 2009

A Salford Star Exclusive
Higher Broughton Special – Part 1

£130,000 TO REFURBISH A TERRACE!!!

Incredibly, Salford Council is arguing that it would cost over £130,000 per property to refurbish terraced houses. This astronomical figure was quoted by Salford Council's `Strategic Director for Sustainable Regeneration' to justify a decision by the Council to rat on its commitment to save 15 houses from demolition in the Top Streets area of Higher Broughton. Yet only two years ago the figure to do up the same houses, given via the Prime Minister himself, was estimated at below £70,000…

What the hell is going on in Higher Broughton?


Higher Broughton Salford Higher Broughton Salford Higher Broughton Salford
click image to enlarge

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 
 

Michael Rushworth wrote
at 16:57:26 on 24 August 2009
Wasnt Hazel Blears the Minister for Housing and Local Government when all these cons were being set up?
 
john wrote
at 21:01:19 on 22 August 2009
this council make the mafia look reasonable all the money goes on advisors.surveyors solicitors.regenal development strategies.most of the money is spent before the builders have opened there tool boxes i remember 13 years ago in langworthy a massive survey to find out what people wanted strethening the community by involving the community did the community get what they asked for did they hell its all a con to keep the chosen few pen pushers in a job and a very lucrative job at that
 
steve jones wrote
at 21:00:50 on 22 August 2009
I lived in one these gaffs in Higher Broughton for a while, most of them need a six hundred quid damp course and a couple of grands worth of roof repairs to make them right. The crux of this statutory scam is that Councils are like businesses nowadays, the fact that land is commercially worth millions shouldnt over ride the fact that Councils are here serve comunity interests and not those of private companies.
 
steve jones wrote
at 21:00:32 on 22 August 2009
Unless New Labour get rid of all that Middle Class careerist free Market rubbish private developers will able to walk all over our communities and knock down our houses at the whim of some greedy overpaid chief exec.
 
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