Visit to the North West 5 and 6 November
1 Members and staff participating
in the visit
Andrew Bennett MP
Clive Betts MP
Louise Ellman MP
Chris Grayling MP
Helen Jackson MP
John Pugh MP
Christine Russell MP
Mr David Harrison (Clerk)
Claire O'Shaughnessy (Committee Specialist)
Professor Ian Cole (Specialist Adviser)
Mr Brendan Nevin (Specialist Adviser)
Monday 5 November
David Henshaw (Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council),
Richard Kemp (Executive Member for Housing, Neighbourhood and
Community Services), Elaine McLean (Assistant Executive Director,
Regeneration Initiatives) and Tom Cray (Assistant Executive Director,
Housing and Neighbourhood Services) Danny Clare (Executive Assistant),
Steve Robinson (Chief Executive, Community Seven Housing), Angela
Glanville (former Kensington NDC Board member and member of Fairfield
Neighbourhood Planning Group), Stephen Boyle (Chief Executive,
Kensington NDC) and Graham Burgess, Development, Housing and Environment
Manager, Liverpool City Council) and Richard Keenan (Vice Chair,
2.1 The City Council told us about the importance
of community consultation, their frustration with the number of
regeneration initiatives, each with its own rules and regulations
and described how they have commenced new working arrangements
with neighbouring authorities on housing renewal.
2.2 In the Kensington New Deal for Communities
(NDC) area, there has been significant population loss in the
25 - 45 age range and people "get a job and move out."
There was a high student population in the area, which has now
moved back into the city centre, which has caused a sharp drop
in demand. Competition with moderately priced, new houses on greenfield
sites has been one of the causes of the decline in demand.
2.3 The housing stock in Kensington included
a street of 3-storey Georgian properties where demand has fallen
and levels of owner occupation have fallen to be replaced by private
renting. We also saw streets of pre-1919, back pavement terraced
properties with a high rate of abandonment and a large number
of vacant shops and closed pubs.
2.4 Steve Robinson (Chief Executive of Community
Seven Housing) told us about the problems caused by some private
landlords. Housing Benefit payments of up to £80 per week
were being made in areas where RSL rent is about £42 per
2.5 One of the aims of the NDC is to increase
the level of owner occupation in the area. However, there are
concerns in the local community about 'gentrification.'
Joe Robertson (Housing Director, Sefton MBC) and
Cllr James Mahon (Sefton MBC Cabinet Member with Housing Portfolio).
3.1 We visited the Bedford Road Regeneration
Area in Bootle. This area is described in the Council's memorandum,
EMP 75. The houses in Bootle were substantial Victorian properties,
appearing to be larger and better built than many of the back-pavement
terraced houses we saw elsewhere. There has been significant investment
in houses in the area in recent years but the total number of
empty homes has remained static and houses which received £15,000
worth of investment are still only worth £15,000.
3.2 The market for properties in the area is
shrinking as people are increasingly moving out of it, and there
is almost no inflow of new residents. There is no significant
demand for social housing in the area.
3.3 The Council has decided to stop making piecemeal
investments in the area and wishes to pursue a strategic approach.
There are 4,000 properties in the area, which need to be cleared;
many may not be replaced. There is, however a £350 million
funding gap to achieving this.
Peter Pike MP, Cllr Steve Wolski (Executive Member
with responsibility for Regeneration), Cllr Peter McCann (Chair
of Regeneration Scrutiny Committee), Cllr Stuart Caddy (Leader
of the Council), Cllr John Lloyd (Independent Group Leader), Cllr
Roger Frost (Liberal Democrat Group Leader), Cllr Peter Doyle
(Conservative Group Leader), Dr Gillian Taylor (Chief Executive),
David Riley (Housing Needs and Strategy Manager), Steve Jackson
(Project Manager, Housing), Sarah Whittaker (SRB Customer Services
Officer), Michael Wellock (Senior Planning Officer), Pete Millward
(Planning Officer), Andrea Meade (PR Officer), Dave Greenfield
(Blackburn with Darwen BC), Julian Hickinbottom (Hyndburn BC).
4.1 In Burnley, we heard that aspirations had
changed and that people wanted more space and higher quality housing
than the existing pre-1919 stock. Burnley Council is also concerned
that there has been insufficient co-ordination across the sub-region
in terms of vacancy rates being taken into account before greenfield
planning consents are given. The Council is also very concerned
about the loss of SRB funding which has, until now, allowed councils
to work in areas of private sector housing. The North West Development
Agency has told the Council that its priorities have been shifted
by central Government and it will no longer be able to make funding
available for this purpose. Where demolition is proposed there
is an additional problem as local residents are frequently trapped
in negative equity and relocation grants are inadequate. The areas
visited are seen as 'risky' by developers who therefore seek gap
funding of approximately £30,000 per unit for new housing.
We also heard how Burnley Council is working with neighbouring
authorities through the East Lancashire Partnership on a number
of initiatives including a joint approach to housing market renewal.
4.2 We visited Burnley Wood, Daneshouse, Stoneyholme
and Accrington Road. Burnley Wood currently has a 30
per cent vacancy rate. We saw row after row of pre-1919, back-pavement,
terraced houses where homes were interspersed with derelict and
vandalised empty properties. Community consultation in the area
has highlighted a desire for vacant properties to be demolished
and for communities to be concentrated in the remaining streets.
SRB funding is available in this area and some demolition has
already taken place. In all the areas visited, the sites created
by demolition have been grassed over and the council will consider
any proposal for the future use of the sites. In Daneshouse and
Stoneyholme we saw an area where the presence of a concentrated
community of ethnic minority residents had resulted in higher
demand than in similar housing stock nearby.
Paul Beardmore (Rochdale MBC)
5.1 In Wardleworth and Hamer, an area
in which 95 per cent of the local population comes from black
and minority ethnic communities, 46 per cent of houses are 'unsatisfactory'
and health in the area is poor. There are very few empty homes
in the area but there is a concern about how long current levels
of high demand will last as aspirations of local people change
and younger residents are less inclined to want to bring up their
children in the area. Housing in this area is almost entirely
pre-1919, back-pavement, terraced properties.
5.2 We passed a nearby, more modern, local authority
housing estate, which is experiencing high turnover at 17 per
cent, a potential sign of falling demand. A group of Asian families
have recently moved onto the estate, following co-operation between
the local housing department and the Police and significant investment
in community development. In a nearby development, Surma Close,
a Bangladeshi housing co-operative has built 30 homes, within
a larger housing development. The development has been successful
because of the development of the right type of affordable home
(including several with 6 or 7 bedrooms), sufficient households
moving in at one (to provide peer support), a balanced mix of
communities and appropriate involvement early in the scheme by
community, health and education professionals.
5.3 We also visited Freehold Estate, a
1960s "deck access"estate. There was significant expenditure
in the area in the early 1990s, through Estate Action, however,
this did not address the social problems. By 1999, turnover was
65 per cent with voids at 17 per cent. Using SRB5 funding, a neighbourhood
management initiative has been developed, with a total of 60 staff
providing security services, 'super-caretaking,' community and
asylum seeker support services within the 900 properties. Rent
has increased by £3.60 per week to fund some of the service
costs but the balance of funding for this has a 3 year lifespan.
The Council hopes to access mainstream resources which have been
able to reduce their level of expenditure in the area (eg reduction
of expenditure by Police and Social Services as conditions on
the estate have improved), to fund this thereafter. Crime has
been cut by 40 per cent.
Tuesday 6 November
Cllr Basil Curley (Executive Member, Housing), Eamonn
Boylan (Director of Manchester Housing), Derek Martin (Assistant
Director), Annie Grist (Principal Strategy Officer), Fionnuala
Stringer (Principal Team Leader), Julie Connor (Acting Chief Executive,
North Manchester Regeneration), Scott Wise (Principal Team Leader),
Sean McGonigle (Principal Regeneration Officer) and Suzanne Price
(Principal Strategy Officer).
6.1 Local residents in the Baytree Renewal
Area believe that the back- pavement, terraced houses in the
area have a sustainable future and have been asking the Council
to invest. The Council is now pursuing a policy of "thinning
out." Terraced houses in the area have seen a collapse in
value from £30,000 in 1990 to around £10,000 now.
6.2 Within half a mile of the renewal area are
new build houses and flats developed by Bellway Homes. The originally
anticipated scale of development has never been achieved despite
Bellway receiving gap funding of approximately £10,000 per
unit to reduce the perceived risk of investing in the area.
6.3 Approximately 100 obsolete houses are due
to be demolished in the Albine / Cole Street Clearance/CPO
Area, another area of pre-1919, back-pavement terraced housing.
The area has a 70 - 80 per cent vacancy rate and Manchester City
Council report that it was already in decline before the new Barratts
Ashley Park development commenced. The Ashley Park property
is in demand but measures to address the wider area are considered
essential to maintain that. There was a discussion about the small
size of property available in Ashley Park, the design of the area
and the concerns amongst residents about crime.
6.4 Larger houses, built between the wars and
immediately after 1945, with gardens are located within yards
of these properties. They have seen their values sustained at
around £40,000. The Council has found the problem of low
demand to be more deep-seated in areas of monolithic provision
where properties are small and of low quality.
6.5 The Lightbowne Renewal Area (with
more pre-1919, back-pavement terraced housing) was the subject
of substantial investment by the City Council and its partners
in the housing fabric. Since 1994 significant grants have been
invested in the area on the basis that its popularity would be
revived by bringing homes up to standard. There was, however,
a rapid market collapse about 6 years ago. One property (which
is now on the market for £5,000) received a grant of £74,000.
One of the main causes was the growth of the city centre economy
which resulted in local people becoming more affluent and those
who could afford to leave the area did, leaving a "residualised
population." Levels of owner occupation have fallen from
50 per cent to 12 per cent. The Committee went inside a number
of the houses. Each has a small front room and modern kitchen
downstairs and two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Although
boarded up, the houses were in good condition.
6.6 The regeneration of East Manchester
brings together a New Deal for Communities area and an Urban Regeneration
Company (in which the Regional Development Agency is very involved).
There are also plans to extend the Tramlink to the area.
6.7 Hartwell Close is part of a private
development, which at the time of completion (10 years ago), was
oversubscribed. Over the past 5 years, the tenure shifted to private
renting but as rents reduced for this sector, many of the properties
were left vacant / abandoned. However, the recent CPO of properties
in nearby Lower Beswick has resulted in people moving from Lower
Beswick, purchasing properties in Hartwell Close, thereby stimulating
the market for houses and restoring the close to 100 per cent
6.8 Lower Beswick is less than 1 mile
from the city centre with 257 back-pavement, terraced properties.
The area received investment in the 1980s. By 1996 it was blighted
by crime, including drugs and prostitution and private landlords
were able to buy a property for as little as £2,000 and then
receive a 150 - 200 per cent return through housing benefit. Negative
equity (property values had fallen from £30,000 in the 1980s
to £10,000) constrained people's ability to move out of the
area. Discussions between the Council and the local community
about how to tackle falling demand, began in 1996. Many of the
owner occupiers received discretionary relocation grants and chose
to remain in East Manchester, many are still paying off previous
mortgages. The Council has found giving a "right to return"
important in building trust with local residents. The relocation
of residents is now complete.
6.9 Since clearance began, the area has seen
immense interest from the private sector, given its location.
They are reported to believe that with the "right product"
the city centre demand can be pulled out to this area. The cleared
area will provide sufficient space for the development of a mix
of properties and values "to enable people to move up within
6.10 We visited Abbey Hey, where the property
market is described as "not failing but fragile." A
large number of for sale signs can be seen. Parts of Abbey Hey
were the subject of General Improvement Area / Housing Action
Intervention programmes during the late 1980s / early 1990s, but
resource constraints have led the City Council to concentrate,
through the 1990s, on adjoining areas where more immediate problems
6.11 The visit concluded in Hulme which
was first redeveloped in the period 1964 - 73, with clearance
of older terraced stock leading to the creation of a series of
local authority estates, featuring extensive linked, deck access
flats in the centre of the community and tower blocks on the edge
of the area. Although mainly medium rise (4 - 8 storey), density
was low and there were large areas of green space. The Council
view is that it was rapidly evident that the estate, including
the crescent shaped properties in the middle of the site, was
unpopular, with building and design defects evident from very
early on. Vacancy rates began to rise in the late 1970s and early
1980s and only an influx of students to the areas sustained occupancy
levels. The decline in family occupancy was accompanied by a rise
in crime and the area became a haven for drug dealing and drug
related crime in the 1980s.
6.12 In 1991, Hulme became one of the first City
Challenge schemes. Following extensive community consultation,
it was agreed that the existing housing stock should be demolished
and replaced with new homes, at a higher density, with a range
of other employment leisure and commercial uses in the neighbourhood.
The consultation process led to a masterplan for Hulme and a design
guide, which promoted the principles of good urban design.
6.13 Over 3,000 deck access flats, over half
of which were empty and abandoned were demolished. They have been
replaced by an equivalent number of homes for sale and rent, with
capacity for further development in the area. Prices for houses
in Hulme have risen from a starting point of around £30,000
per unit (for early apartments built with significant gap funding)
to up to £150,000 for townhouses overlooking the park (with
no gap funding).
6.14 The total public investment in the area
has been approximately £200 million, taking account of City
Challenge, English Partnership, the Housing Corporation, local
authority and ERDF funding. The City Challenge "pump priming"
was "critical". Attention was also focussed on the road
and bus links between Hulme and the City Centre, to "reconnect"
6.15 The difference between Hulme and the type
of redevelopment proposed elsewhere in the city is the fact that
in Hulme, the freehold of all the housing was owned by the City
Council. The costs and timescales involved in acquisition and
demolition in areas with a mix of tenures are likely to be much