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SALFORD COUNCIL HIGH COURT DRAMA
 

Star date: 4th November 2009

A Salford Star Exclusive

Higher Broughton Special Part 3

LET SALFORD PEOPLE JUDGE

Salford Council has dramatically pulled out of a High Court hearing due to take place today.

Three residents in the Top Streets of Higher Broughton slapped an injunction on Salford Council to stop it demolishing their homes and the case was to be put before a High Court judge this morning. But the Council, at the last minute, has pulled out, proposing a six week `consultation' and negotiation period, in a bid to ward off, what we believe, would have been an inevitable defeat.

Full story here…


SALFORD COUNCIL HIGH COURT DRAMA SALFORD COUNCIL HIGH COURT DRAMA SALFORD COUNCIL HIGH COURT DRAMA
SALFORD COUNCIL HIGH COURT DRAMA SALFORD COUNCIL HIGH COURT DRAMA SALFORD COUNCIL HIGH COURT DRAMA
click image to enlarge

THE BACKGROUND

Way back in December 2007 residents from the Top Streets of Higher Broughton (the Solutions Group) met representatives from Salford Council to discuss the refurbishment of 15 houses on King Street and eight houses on Devonshire Street. These were to be the only houses in the area saved from demolition, and Andrew Roberts, the director of Church Lukas Architects produced detailed plans for the refurbishments of two, three and four bedroom properties.

This meeting happened after Councillor Peter Connor, Salford Council's Lead Member for Housing Services had signed a formal decision notice in September 2006 declaring that "the retention of 15 remodelled and refurbished houses on King Street be confirmed as the intended development proposal."

The plans for the refurbishment of the larger Devonshire Street houses were added at a later stage following further consultation. Even though residents wanted a larger number of houses to be saved, this seemed like a good compromise, offering anyone from the Top Streets who wanted to stay in the area - and anyone who wanted to move into an affordable home - a decent place to live.

AND THEN…

In April 2009 a letter arrived from Paul Walker, Salford Council's ironically named Strategic Director for Sustainable Regeneration, informing the residents that "Regrettably…the option to retain and refurbish properties within the area to provide re-housing is no longer viable".

The reasons given were that there was "no guaranteed open market demand for the properties", that the old terraces would be "markedly out of keeping with new build stock that will surround them"…and, most controversially, that refurbishment costs would be "up to £130,000 per property" and that "these costs are now likely to have increased".

Salford Council Leader, John Merry, told us that even though the Council had "made a commitment, in good faith at the time" to retain and refurbish properties,"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."

THE HIGH COURT CASE…HERE COME THE JUDGE…

Horrified residents slapped an injunction of the Council, to stop it demolishing the houses and were set to challenge Salford Council's assumptions in the High Court today. The full details of the residents' case is obviously confidential but we believe that the Council would have lost on the following grounds…

1) The £130,000+ cost of refurbishing the properties was not "economically viable"…

In a previous Salford Star feature on Higher Broughton we got an independent builder to do a rough costing of refurbishing the houses and he came up with a figure of between £50,000 and £70,000 even for a three bedroom property. This figure has been confirmed by Salford Council's own partnership company, Urban Vision, in an estimate for a similar house just across the road from the condemned terraces.

On 20th October 2009 Peter Connor, Salford Council's Lead Member for Housing, in an official council decision, authorised the attempted acquisition of  number 28 Gainsborough Street as it had been left unoccupied by its owner. The terrace house, the Decision Notice states, is in a "severe state of disrepair" and "the cost of renovating the property will be substantial".

The price? £55,310 plus a fee to Urban Vision (of course) for £9,003, making a total of £64,313, less than half the price quoted to restore Top Streets properties literally across the road. Explain that to the judge!

2) There's "no demand" for the properties

Apart from the residents still left living in the Top Streets who do want the houses, there are also people who have left the area, helped by Salford Council, as there was nowhere to re-house them once their properties were bulldozed. In the last Salford Star feature on Higher Broughton we highlighted the case of a lady whose "preferred option through the clearance process has been to move into a refurbished property within the new development". These are Salford Council's written words, not ours, from a Report into her plight.

The Report continued…"The Council have made a decision that refurbishment is no longer viable in the area and the option is, therefore, no longer available"…and adds "Given the reduction in supply of two bedroom pavement terraces in the area, as a direct result of the clearance process, this would limit her choice…"

In other words, this lady whose house is being demolished demanded to move into the refurbished properties but she can't because we're not refurbishing them because there's no demand. Eh? Explain that bonkers logic to the judge!

And there's more…

The Gainsborough Street area, literally across the road from the Top Streets, was originally down for demolition too. But here, 337 pavement terraced properties are being refurbished to the tune of £3.784million. 

A Salford Council Report on 15th September stated, "In the early part of the Housing Market Renewal Programme house prices and vacancy rates in the area reflected those in the adjacent Top Streets clearance area…As time progressed, however, it became apparent that market conditions were changing and that radical action may no longer be appropriate".

The Report even states that house prices have risen 577% to an average £130,979 in 2008 and that vacancy rates were "decreasing".  In other words, that there's a demand for houses only 50 yards away from ones where there's no demand? Tell that to the judge!

3) That the Top Streets terraces would have been "markedly out of keeping with new build stock that will surround them"…

Aesthetics? Style over Salford content? Is this a reason to demolish people's homes? There's no way that would stand up in a court of law. 

We have seen the contents of a letter where it's written that the reason the Top Streets houses are not going to be refurbished is that the developers of the area are not interested in saving them, nor would they pay for the refurbishments.

This, we believe, is why people's homes in the Top Streets of Higher Broughton are being demolished. We further do not believe that any of the Council's case would have stood up in a court of law.

WHERE WE'RE AT NOW…

Salford Council has chickened out of the High Court case and proposed a six week consultation/negotiation period. If the residents are not happy with its outcome the case will definitely go to High Court…

Watch this space.

* In a final act of ironic cruelty, G&J Seddon, the contractor which is doing the refurbishments of the Gainsborough Streets, has put its compound on the site of where Top Streets houses used to be before they were bulldozed.

 

See Higher Broughton Special Part 1

See Higher Broughton Special Part 2

See District Valuer and Higher Broughton

 

 

 

Former resident wrote
at 14:23:11 on 11 December 2012
I was passing today and decided to have a look round. I saw that the 6 remaining houses on Devonshire street have not been renovated yet. I looked through the steel mesh over the doors of the empty houses and noticed that the doors were wide open behind them. This must make the 2 remaining occupied houses incredibly difficult and costly to heat. Is this a deliberate ploy to "encourage" the remaining residents to move or freeze to death or yet another oversight that will be rectified once the Salford Star brings it to the attention of the council?
 
G.Griffiths wrote
at 19:38:17 on 29 January 2011
Still no letter from councillor Merry or Paul Walker, who seems to be getting paid over £2,500 a week to not answer any questions. i,m sure you could find plenty of people in Salford to do that for a lot less. I spoke to Councillor Merry 3 weeks ago and he promised me that reponses would be out within the week. What is the point of employing officers who just ignore everthing and get paid for doing so?
 
Carl wrote
at 17:25:21 on 05 January 2011
Have you had an anwer to your emails form the council yet? Good luck with all the problems.
 
G.Griffiths wrote
at 10:38:42 on 01 January 2011
New year bump up for this. Still no answer from the council about whether they will pay the remainder to the people they underpaid for their houses (mainly near the housing market peak of 2006/2007). This will look Really Good for Salford if it gets to court.Q "Why are you not refurbishing these houses?"-----A "Because there is no demand for terraced housing"----- Q "Why have you just spent £4 million renovating houses in the Gainsborough st area?"----A "Because there is a demand for terraced housing". Gainsbourough Street is about 30 yards away from Top Streets!. You are going to look really good in court, especially when there is written evidence of talk of renovating Top Streets going back to 1999!
 
Ed wrote
at 09:11:29 on 28 December 2010
Regeneration, is just a word they have used to con everyone... FACT is, the ONLY people who want regeneration are the Council and the investors... I know a lot of people who have been forced out of their homes by the council, and none of them wanted to move, or are they happy with what they have now.
 
G.Griffiths wrote
at 11:30:27 on 27 December 2010
I expect Mr. Merry wont answer this. He only seems to contact the star if he thinks a direct attack is being made towards him. The council and it,s officers, bullied the people in this area to force them out.They lied to them for years. One old lady still jokes about the bungalow she was offered about 8 or 9 years ago. Of course there was no bungalow, it was just part of a loaded questionaire to manipulate figures. I invite anyone passing the area to come an have a look at over 15 years regeneration. The shopping parade and pub have been demolished and over 400 families have lost their homes. The community hub is 5 years behind schedule, Broughton Green is has been getting sold off on the cheap to a jewish housing association because they cant sell it to anyone else, Newbury place has not been built on in line with the MASTERPLAN and neither has the site where Hanover court stood. The first time I met Steve after my eviction in September 2005, I told him that Broughton Green would not sell and the reason why. It was aimed at the Jewish community (that is why the properties have 2 sinks and 2 fridges) and I said to him " Why should they buy it as they will get it anyway?" I explained in September 2005 that the housing association would end up with most of the properties BUT the council and their cronies didn,t see it. The Regeneration is a cock up all round.
 
G.Griffiths wrote
at 16:52:20 on 24 December 2010
Lets give this a seasonal bump as it,s been over a year and still nothing has happened. Salford council just keep delaying things hoping that people either drop dead or give up. I have lived with and seen the effects of this Regeneration for over 15 years. Despite what councillor Merry will say, there was not much wrong with the houses. The problems were social (or anti social) with the people who had moved in. A housing association moved in a family of gypsies and the place went downhill within months. This should not have been an excuse for the council to jump into bed with business and exploit the people who were left. I am sure that Mr.Merry will sleep easily after telling everybody that the council did us all a favour by taking our homes off us but it was not the houses that were the problem. Yes there was consultation (sic) but the council never listened as they thought they knew best. I,ve see an old lady move out of Hampshire street into one of the top streets and then have to move again 4 years later as the council had decided that they were going to demolish those streets.She died 6 weeks after this 2nd move. I have seen a lady in her 80,s have to move out of the house she lived in all her life and then turn to the bottle and die within a 2 years. She did not want to move from her home. The people in the top streets were led to believe from 2001 that their streets were going to be renovated. Then it was "some renovation" right up until when the letter came in April 2009 informing them that there would be nothing renovated. That is nearly 8 years of being lied to. The council will point out, in their opinion, that there was no demand for terraced housing, yet they have spent £4,000,000 renovating houses to the East of Leicester road. If they had any sense, they would have demolished one side of streets on both sides of Leicester road and changed the character of the area by opening it up and having space for parking. Instead they have streets in the same pattern they always were, which they have told us people dont want and a wasteland on the other side of the road. When you step out of your house Mr Merry,walk just outside of the ghetto and look at over 15 years of your regeneration. And you got a cbe? Merry Christmas to all Salford star readers and especially those who have had to live with regeneration.
 
R Brown wrote
at 20:45:51 on 07 August 2010
I too am stuck in the middle of a regeneration plot and the lies and deception that i have been fed is unbelievable. "Back on the Map" its more like wiped off the map. Hundreds have been helped with free improvement to the facia of their properties (bad landlords included) so they are all for the scheme while some of us who have kept thir properties in good condition are being treated as if we were worthless and stupid. I am very very angry
 
Time will tell wrote
at 16:11:31 on 15 June 2010
Maybe "right is mine" would like to have a look round higher Broughton and see the enviroment and the result of the extant (I know council speak now!) regeneration? Funny thing is that the house stood for over 100 years and only started "falling down" when the council mismanaged propeties that it had bought and thieves started to strip lead,slates and copper from them. I wonder how many of the replacement houses will be standing in 100 years? See how you feel if it ever happens to you.
 
right is mine wrote
at 23:15:36 on 09 June 2010
You Salford Star people make me want to puke,So some losers in some falling down houses want to dig in against the council's attempt to give the ungrateful people of Broughton a better enviroment and housing conditions. Probably in a scurrilous attempt to get more compensation for their scruffy slums. These people do not know when they are well off they should take the money and run before the bleeding heart judge wakes up smells the coffee and spots the ruse.Furthermore it is about time Kingston and his sometime sidekick Pivaro packed in doing a low rent version of Engels and Marx in attempt to stir up the low life salford rabble. Don't you know you are on to a loser lads the only thing that rules in Salford is Apathy.
 
Should have wrote
at 10:29:02 on 06 November 2009
SHOULD HAVE GOT AN ADULT TO HELP THEM.
 
confused wrote
at 18:53:13 on 04 November 2009
Q-Why are you not renovating houses in the top streets? A-Because there is no demand for terraced houses. Q-Why are you renovating houses in the Gainsborough Street area 20 yards away? A-Because there is a demand for terraced houses in the area. Yep! Im sure that would look good in court.
 
Hiya Broughton wrote
at 18:52:54 on 04 November 2009
"The more you refuse to hear my voice/The louder I will sing/You hide behind walls of Jericho/Your lies will come trembling/Deny my place in time/You squander WEALTH THAT'S MINE/My light will shine so brightly it will blind you" - Labi Siffre, So Strong - and very relevant!
 
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