Let\’s create affordable housing by bulldozing affordable houses

John Prescott\’s idiocy lives on:

The Liverpool mayor\’s cabinet on Friday approved progress on what the council calls \”exciting and ambitious plans to deliver the comprehensive transformational regeneration\” of the area, by agreeing to accept the lowest bid to destroy about 440 houses, according to protesters, though planning permission has yet to be formally granted. The scheme, to replace these with a little more than 150 new houses, has been submitted to the council by one of the city\’s housing associations, Plus Dane, using at least £15m in taxpayers\’ money.

The real gahstly stupidity of the whole thing is that if you simply offered these houses on the open market then they would be bought and refurbished:

\”I\’ve done the calculations. They can refurbish a house for up to £30,000, and there\’s a good market for them to sell at £80,000.\”

Thus each one standing has a residual value of £50k. But they\’re going to knock them down.

Just idiots.

29 thoughts on “Let\’s create affordable housing by bulldozing affordable houses”

  1. Welcome to Merseyside, where Derek Hatton lives as a multi-millionaire in the city’s most expensive penthouse. Here everyone knows the Tories are evil, so it doesn’t matter what idiocy the Mayor and his buddies dream up, they still get back in. Even our local UKIP MEP Paul Nutter is basically a Colin Hynes style prgressive protectionist.

  2. Nothing intrinsically wrong with these houses. Exactly the same places sell for a million quid in Fulham.

  3. “They are accountable to the council – but there is overlap in terms of personnel: the deputy chairman of Liverpool council, for example, is also the chairman of a large association, Riverside; and the leader of the Liberal Democrat group that ran the city until the last election, Richard Kemp, was until recently the chairman of Plus Dane. Many councillors sit on the housing association boards.”

    Hmm.

  4. I owned one of these once, in Manchester, not Liverpool. And I loved it then, but not sure I’d live in it now I am older and wiser . Part of the problem is these estates can go on for miles and miles. And it’s just a fact of life in the UK that people ghettoise themselves. If you get rich and can get out of places like that, you either find somewhere the same size in a better location, or somewhere bigger regardless of location.

    So the endless terraced estates end up being populated by a handful of sub-classes, mostly towards the bottom end of the social spectrum, plus a few people who left it too late to move elswhere, then some bohemians and students.

    And the fact is, as lovely as those old turn-of-the-century dwellings are, they are small and there is not demand to live in inner-city areas. A few years ago they knocked down perhaps 100 very spacious (and reasonable condition) three-storey terraces in the Langworthy area of Salford. The sort of property urban professionals should find desirable, and which would sell for around a million in the right area of London. Right house, wrong place.

    Knock two together, knock down the buildings behind to make a large garden, and you are getting somewhere. Not all of them, just some of them.

  5. Oh well, at least it “helps boost the High Street” as loads of intersted parties nip down to Smiths to stock up on brown envelopes…

  6. We are told, here in Merseyside, that lots of families cannot find suitable affordable housing. We’re told the housing benefit bill to the nation is insustainable and that the money is going into the hands of “rapacious” private landlords. We are told the “bedroom tax” will lead to destitution. Well, here we have a private developer wanting to redevelope affordable housing. You know, affordable housing, the only sustainable long term solution to these problems.
    In Merseyside, however, we know that these developers, indeed all private developers, are evil bastards, preying on the homeless masses. Indeed even the bricks they build with are EVIL BRICKS. Oh no, only social housing is good housing. A roof isn’t really over your head if it’s a private roof. This is social and political prejudice, nothing more; nothing less.

    JamesV
    I appreciate your sensibility. However, the developer here says it has demand. There is nothing more to say.

  7. Oh Tim, don’t you get it? Affordable homes through greater supply and lower prices – don’t you realise how many landowners, lobbyists, party funding developers and older, key voters would be angry with such an outcome?

    The only politically feasible type of ‘affordable’ housing are drip-fed

  8. (continued from last post)

    ….£200,000 shoeboxes, nicely subsidised for developers and land-hoarders through an assortment of government schemes and market interventions.

  9. Thought it might be worth of enquiring of someone who knows the area & the market. Owning a couple hundred Liverpool properties does indicate skin in the game.

    “…in certain roads and parts of Liverpool it is simply not worthwhile to renovate, even if you gave the houses away. The two up/two down properties all boarded up are past renovating and they would not command 80k at the end. Entire streets would need to be renovated with infrastructures brought in to support future interested parties.”

    And that’s often the problem. It’s not

  10. (Try again)

    Thought it might be worth of enquiring of someone who knows the area & the market. Owning a couple hundred Liverpool properties does indicate skin in the game.

    The reply:

    “…in certain roads and parts of Liverpool it is simply not worthwhile to renovate, even if you gave the houses away. The two up/two down properties all boarded up are past renovating and they would not command 80k at the end. Entire streets would need to be renovated with infrastructures brought in to support future interested parties.”

    And that’s often the problem. It’s not £30K for one house to realise GBP80K. It’s £30M for maybe a thousand properties plus ancillaries. And is there GBP80M+ of buying interest to justify the investment.
    GBP30K’s worth of renovation on a GBP50K house gives you a GBP50k house with a nice bathroom.

  11. I’d be astonished if what BIS says isn’t broadly true, based simply on the difference between Manchester-Liverpool’s peak population, and the population now. If you take Liverpool alone, excluding all the surrounding areas, the population now is little more than half what it was at peak. That’s pretty typical of the entire area, although there are some outlying areas which have seen significantly greater loss of population.

    It makes sense to me that we may well need to demolish houses in what’s becoming a ghost-city. If housing in Liverpool isn’t already ‘affordable’, I don’t know what is. It’s just that no-one wants to live there.

    The only thing you can do with regard to not-the-South-East in order to fix housing supply shortages in the SE is to improve transport links. Better not mention HS2&3…

  12. Obviously high density housing making way for “desirable dwellings” under the name of social or affordable housing is crass.

    However, there will be no doubt that these houses need demolishing, and money spent on decommissioning the asbestos, and the recycling of the cleaner rubble.

    Without delving into this case, the casual use of all the forms of asbestos was prevalent for a gew decades. The cost of securing it and then storing it always a major factor in deelopment strategy.

    To be allowed, however, to reduce 440 into 150, wrt to demand, could be a factor of many things.

    That an HA is seeking approval could mean many things, god or bad, but there is no doubt that the quickly built estates around those times would not serve much longer than a couple of lifetimes.
    440 into 150 seems ludicrous, nut if the were cheaply built multi-storey necessities for the time, the modern building regs could explain the ratio reduction.

    Still I don’t know the background behind Tim’s ill-informed splunge, but he probably doesn’t anywat. As witnessed by most of his posts.

  13. My laptop has many missing keys. apologies for for attempting to do various letters.

    not that you haters care.

  14. Dave,

    The other option is to switch to Citizen’s Income away from various benefits like JSA, Income Support and Housing Benefit. Give people a flat amount of money to live on and let the market sort things out.

    Most people have no idea just how huge HB is, and how much of it is spent housing people in London, when in most cases, they don’t need to be. If you’ve got an employer who wants you in London, they can pay for you. If you’re sitting on your arse watching Jeremy Kyle, you can do that in Manchester.

    62000 in London are getting over 250/wk in housing benefit at the moment. That compares with 1200 in the North West. To get over 62000 benefit claimants in the North West, you have to get down to 100/wk. So, if we remove geographically-linked benefits and just make it flat, we can see that there’s a huge benefit for people to get out of the city and redistribute themselves more widely across the country.

  15. Arnald
    If you look at the picture of those 2up/2down terrace houses you’re looking at something that was built around mid C19th. Essentially it’s a brick shell with some timberwork in it. No provision for water heating, no electrical wiring. Most of them didn’t even have plumbing as original fit.
    Any asbestos or other hazardous substances will have been retrofitted rather than incorporated & will be as easy to remove as they were to install.
    Not an issue.

  16. Tim Almond>

    I don’t think 62k makes much difference one way or the other, really. And, if we’re being fair, I’d have thought many or even most of those are in fact working families with three or four kids. It’s nigh-on impossible to find a three bedroom flat for less than

  17. Tim Almond>

    I don’t think 62k makes much difference one way or the other, really. And, if we’re being fair, I’d have thought many or even most of those are in fact working families with three or four kids. It`s nigh-on impossible to find a three bedroom flat for less than

  18. Tim Almond>

    I don’t think 62k makes much difference one way or the other, really. And, if we’re being fair, I’d have thought many or even most of those are in fact working families with three or four kids. It`s nigh-on impossible to find a three bedroom flat for less than GBP250 a week. That`s about GBP1100 a month, and you need to add at least another 50% to be able to afford anywhere that`s more than just a roof over your head.

    If we`re talking about the feckless long-term unemployed of the popular stereotype, I really think that dealing with the core problem is a better solution than bribing them all to move up North – that`d seem to exacerbate the problem rather than help, even if it cut the total bill by a small amount.

    As I`ve said before, there really aren’t many options for London. Either abandon the Green Belt – not something I favour – or demolish (parts of) existing suburbs and replace with higher density housing, or build transport links sufficient to make some other part of the country effectively a suburb of London.

    I like the idea of bringing another area closer with transport. Less than a hundred miles away there`s the seventh emptiest county in England – Lincolnshire. (One of the other six is Rutland, which is also in range, but tiny.) The M11 and A1M already go most of the way as road links, and there`s a reasonable route for a dedicated high-speed rail link. As a side bonus, if there`s a ~30 minute express rail link to bring commuters in, there’ll also be a half-hour rail link taking Londoners out of the city for fun – would be nice to have a beach.

  19. Dave,

    “I don’t think 62k makes much difference one way or the other, really. And, if we’re being fair, I’d have thought many or even most of those are in fact working families with three or four kids. ”

    Agreed. Why am I paying for them to live in London if they’re working, rather than their employer doing so?

  20. Tim>

    Well, in many cases we are the employer. There must be something like 60,000 NHS nurses in London, just for starters. Other than the public-sector employees, there are also those who are being taxed on the one hand, and given housing benefit on the other; that’s clearly ludicrous, but ought to be taken into account when assessing the housing situation.

  21. Dave > or demolish (parts of) existing suburbs and replace with higher density housing

    That’s effectively what’s happening where I live in West Ealing. It’s not an announced policy, but the examples I see are so many, that it is quite deliberately being done.

  22. Or alternatively try to work out why everything has gone so damn London-centric in the last 50 years and shows no sign of stopping.

    Even for stuff that has to be done in a big city, or the kind of thing where the workers want to be in a big city, there is plenty of competition for London within the UK. Why are Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol et al failing to attract business and people away from the capital?

  23. JamesV,

    “Why are Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol et al failing to attract business and people away from the capital?”

    In part, it’s because the rest of the country subsidises people to remain there, and pours money from the rest of the country into projects there (that then end up generally employing people there). Half of all housing benefit for the UK goes to London. Over half the public arts spending is in London. That distorts the labour market.

    In software, you don’t find many businesses producing software for the free market in London – they’re nearly always involved in things like fake charity websites or stuff for the public sector.

  24. Ian>

    Are you talking about the major redevelopment of the tower blocks there? Or are people actually knocking down the little terraces and semis?

    JamesV>

    It’s gone that way in response to the movement of the population. The vast majority of people in the UK want to live in London because it’s one of the world’s great cities. The UK doesn’t have any other actual cities, rather than large towns, so it’s not surprising that generally all the want-to-be city-dwellers come to London.

  25. They’re going to spend £15m of our money knocking down 440 houses and building 150?

    And this improves the supply of housing?

    I’ll need to read it again, I must have missed something.

    Or perhaps they’re idiots.

  26. Laughing Cavalier

    This brilliant wheeze was dreamed up, originally, by the renowned intellectual John Prescott.

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