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Are Communities Being Destroyed?

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


OneFootInTheGrave Report 30 Oct 2013 08:34

There is a serious shortage of both affordable homes to rent or buy and social housing in London and many other areas - despite that council homes are regularly being knocked down to make way for luxury flats which will be sold well beyond the price that the average working class person could afford.

I have no problem where action is taken by local authorities to upgrade or replace dilapidated and sub-standard social housing schemes - but I do have a problem with schemes being sold off to greedy developers. Past planning disasters have shown that you cannot just take a large number of people out of one area and dump them in another area and hope that a close knitted thriving community will emerge.

The latest scheme involves demolishing about 760 council homes on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates as well as the Earls Court Exhibition Centre to make way for yet another development of luxury flats.

The London Mayor Boris Johnson and the man, who is supposed to be responsible for communities - Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, have already approved the development that was put forward by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Now I can see some logic in getting rid of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, it is an old building that opened in 1937 and it is expensive to maintain, but I can see no logic for demolishing 760 council homes on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates.

In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, when they decided to knock down the exhibition centre and approve the building of luxury flats on that side, they also decided that they really could not have ordinary working class people in council houses living next to people in luxury flats, so they decided to get rid of the council houses as well.

It concerns me that these developments will not only destroy communities as opposed to supporting & strengthening them, they will make the shortage of social housing worse than it already is. In many areas, not just London, these policies which are designed to maintain, a them and us society, are being implemented - when other countries do this sort of thing, this country accuses them of social cleansing.

Does anyone else share my concerns?

Note: This thread is about destroying communities and the sale off council housing estates to developers so they can build luxury flats and houses.


JustJohn Report 30 Oct 2013 10:09

It's a tricky one this, OFITG. There must be a lot of young singles and couples who would like something new and affordable with a village atmosphere in that area. But will any of the property be bought by housing associations? Where will residents currently be moved? And apparently we desperately need exhibition space in London, though building something further out with good air, rail and road links might be preferable.

It looks a fairly iconic building like the Hoover building on A40 that was turned into a Tesco. That still keeps its old facade, so hope this new development does not lose that.

As an aside, I do note that communities are important when HS2 or Eurostar is whistling through posh villages in Home Counties. But communities on council estates or coal valleys are more expendable. :-(


Dame*Shelly*("\(*o*)/") Report 1 Nov 2013 01:01

im with you all the way

i no im not going to put my piont a cross to well but
i can see that very soon there will be no council housing and as for a good communitie well what is that.

it is ok for new development as you have to get rid of the old to make way for the new as this is happening were i live but
thay have knocked down a lot of council properts for privet developers

thay have moved a very large number of people all ready that have lived in the area for years we use to have a very go communitie that has now gone

i my self have no family or close friends around me
as thay have all been moved out of the eara
i have about another 5 years befor thay move me to a new eara
so if i do make new friends i will soon loss tham as well

new people that are moveing into the new propertys seem to keep to them selfs and dont want to mix in no matter how hard you try

all you get from the mps and council is what a good communitie we have
i would like to no were or am i missing some think


Sharron Report 1 Nov 2013 02:23

Having never been urban, I can't tell if the rural poor suffer more than those in cities but I know we have our own problems.

I was born in this village and, when I was growing up, I was related to at least sixty people in this village, not one of whom owned the house they lived in. Now there are four including Fred. The others are fairly distant and have bought back into the village.

The agricultural housing was not always first class then and we aspired to living in a council house, although, having a home with your job would put you down the list a fair way and there was usually a cottage to be had.

Now, most of the cottages, if not all, are sold, not difficult in a village. Many that once housed two, maybe three families with children who would walk or cycle to the primary school (grrrrrr!!!!!), now hold a couple who may or may not live there all week. They often extend and embellish the two or three houses they have bought to turn into one before selling it at a great profit to move on to another village.

At least a dozen family homes have been lost in this way in our village alone.

When the original 'homes fit for heroes' were built between the wars, they followed pretty much the same pattern as farm labourers cottages, houses of an adequate size to live and raise a family modestly and a garden large enough to provide space for the children to play safely and for a man to provide food for his family. My 1930s council house garden is 124' x 24'. The school house was recently sold for social housing development. The house, built to house the headmaster's family is now two flats and there are five houses with parking in a garden the size of mine. The school field is not a public place, a tall fence quickly surrounded it when the dwellings were erected, so where are those children supposed to play?

Much of the old social housing has been bought by tenants who have extended well beyond the pockets of the young so they are being forced into the battery environment, usually in the town or another village at some distance.

As houses have become private property over the years, I have noticed that hedges have become higher and, now, big fences are going up more and more. A community that looked out for each other because, if for no other reason, they were mostly related however distantly, has become very introspective.


OneFootInTheGrave Report 1 Nov 2013 11:14

Before I moved to where I live now, I lived in a fairly prosperous suburb of Bromley, there most homes are privately owned.

In that area, surrounded by houses which can sell for anything between £295,00 to £450,000, there was a local authority housing association sheltered housing scheme consisting of 48 one-bedroom flats. As one local councillor said these flats were a community within themselves.

Despite fierce opposition, the local authority recently granted permission for the demolition of the sheltered accommodation and erection of 26 two storey semi-detached houses (2 two bedroom), 18 three bedroom and 6 four bedroom) and 1 two storey block comprising 4 one bedroom and 4 two bedroom flats with estate road and 54 car parking spaces.

I am not sure of what the allocation of the plans approved are, but the original plans were for 26 for private sale, five for shared ownership targeted at first-time buyers, two affordable family homes and just eight flats for older people.

There are conflicting reports as to why it was deemed necessary to get rid of the sheltered housing scheme. One report said it was because the one bedroom flats were too small and hard to re-let. However there is another report that says, in a letter to one local councillor - the housing association has been working with the council to reduce the number of sheltered schemes they manage. The two page letter goes on to say that each unit of sheltered accommodation we lose saves the council £16 per week in funding.

The elderly people who lived in that sheltered housing scheme were forced to move out, they were re-housed by scattering them across the whole borough, as a result the community that previously existed was totally destroyed. Many were left totally distraught - I know this because some were re-housed in the scheme where I now live, their stories are heartbreaking.


Bobtanian Report 2 Nov 2013 10:22

"affordable housing? does this mean a cheap sale to first time buyers?

sounds good, but will these first time buyers then sell at an affordable price? I think not, they will want as much as they can get, for their new home its only affordable.............once...........!!.


maggiewinchester Report 2 Nov 2013 11:00

........and who buy the 'affordable' housing?
Strikes me, a lot of 'buy to let' sharks always manage to get in on the act.


OneFootInTheGrave Report 2 Nov 2013 11:14

Lets also remember the bedroom tax, or should I be politically correct and call it the spare room subsidy, a penalty brought in to persuading people with spare rooms to move into smaller accommodation. It is well reported that there is a serious shortage of smaller properties - yet in my example above they are demolishing smaller properties and replacing them with larger properties :-S


RolloTheRed Report 2 Nov 2013 11:22

Far and away the main reason that house prices ( and rents ) have increased as much as they have is the lack of supply, not demand.

It is not difficult to see why.

In the countryside and provincial towns and cities it is extremely difficult to get planning permission - sure protect the green belt but it is being used as a method to protect the value of existing housing.

In cities planning authorities do not like conversion to residential of any kind of building because it reduces their council tax take. Also in cities there is a lot of opposition to the construction of flats. The conditions attached to re-use of brownfield sites are so onerous that meeting the costs usually crowds out social housing eg Park Royal, Battersea. Stratford.

House prices could be 30-50% lower than they are now with a more easy going approach to development. Much easier to obtain permission would also get a lot of people back to what is normally well paid work.

Against that are the vested interests - private landlords, builders with land banks, parish and district councils, the Greens, banks and finance companies holding mortages, existing home owners determined to move up the "ladder"...

It is a pandora's box which no political party wants to open not least because nearly all MPs (and ex PMs) are playing the game.

All the same the young and the lower paid - half the population - are being squeezed between the monster Charybidis (cost of living ) and Scylla ( cost of housing ). Something will have to give.



Malcolm Report 2 Nov 2013 17:00

B........t's are building house's near me , i asked a worker how much it cost to build the house he was working on, £30.000 for the land & £70.000 for the build. That house is up for sale for £310.000. SAY NO MORE.


OneFootInTheGrave Report 5 Nov 2013 08:59

The destruction of communities rolls on relentlessly, especially the efforts to make London an area where only the better off can afford to live :-(

It is the end of an era for yet another social housing scheme as, the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle, which was completed in 1974 and was popular with residents is, after a long running saga between Southwark Council, the developers Lend Lease, and the residents - has reached the end of the road.

A teacher, who remains inside his three-bedroom maisonette in Elephant and Castle amid a dispute about compensation, represents the last hurdle in a 15-year project which will see more than 1,200 primarily social-rented homes replaced with more than 2,300 flats and houses, the selling price for a one-bedroom flat is currently around £380,000.


DazedConfused Report 5 Nov 2013 12:00

The Heygate and Aylesbury Estates were great at the beginning, but they were not well built.

The problem now is that the proposed scheme for the Heygate is not going to benefit those who grew up in the area, but big business/ There is a plan for some shops but not necessarily shops that are needed more designer type.

Having grown up in the Walworth Road and seen the decline of these modern estates Southwark Council has a lot to answer for.

What is needed is not only cheap housing but housing that is built to a higher standard. Rooms of a liveable size, well insulated and not too dense in the amount of homes in one area.

That was the root of the problem with these 2 estates, if you lived on the edge it was not too bad, but if you lived towards the centre, you had covered entrances and walkways which just became a muggers/junkies paradise. Dense living is not a solution but a cause of the problem.

Rant over, calm calm :-)


RolloTheRed Report 5 Nov 2013 12:20

Going to be a problem for TV crime producers looking for a backdrop ....

A tad over £ 400 K for a 2 bedroom flat in central London is to put it mildy a bit of a saving on the same floor area a couple of miles away in Chelsea or Fulham.

The real problem is that many ( most? ) of these properties will not end up not with owner occupiers but B2L landlords ( often foreign ) charging extravagent rents to tenants claiming benefits!

All the way back to Peabody in Lehman Street it has never ever been possible to build social housing of reasonable standard and to make it pay. The coalition are not bothered that greater London is becoming an uninhabitable zone for most Brits unless they run to a Chelsea tractor and a residential parking permit.

So far Labour has not come up with anything very imaginative for social housing or even buy-2-own in London. They should. Even the Tories have come up with a useful first step - impose capital gains tax on foreign owned property. Funds raised from this should be passed to to Housing Associations as a free grant.


OneFootInTheGrave Report 5 Nov 2013 15:07

It is not only Southwark Council that has a lot to answer for, unfortunately the ambitious plans of governments of all persuasions since 1945, to build decent social housing for let to ordinary hard working class people, have for various reasons, created the social housing problems we have today.

As housing policy, which has always been a political football evolved, any dream of schemes originally planned by Development Corporations under the New Towns Act, along the lines of the original Garden City design, were to be short lived.

Social housing was meant to help lift people out of slums and areas of deprivation. However due to numerous policy changes by central government and local authorities the way social housing developed and was managed, changed dramatically.

As a result of numerous changes in planning regulations and the role of development corporations changed, there was a rapid growth in the building of overspill estates and high density developments - in particular tower blocks, often with no social amenities such as, shops, schools, churches, community areas, etc.

In addition, changes to the way subsidies for social housing were allocated, resulted in local authorities cutting back on the amount they spent on maintenance, as a result many social housing schemes were allowed to fall into disrepair. Properties became difficult to let and some local authorities started to let the empty properties to those they considered to be problem families.

Due to a combination of, planning regulations, changes to housing subsidies, lack of social amenities, poor maintenance, the housing of problem families, many social housing schemes became the slums and ghettos they were supposed to replace.

In saying all that I have said, I would like to make it clear that I know there are many social housing schemes that have not been allowed to become slums and ghettos and long may they continue to be a vibrant community and pleasant place to live :-)