By Charles Clover, Environment Editor The Telegraph
Up to 400,000 homes are to be demolished across the north of England, equivalent to a city the size of Birmingham.
Demolition will take place over the same 15-year period as John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, is planning to squeeze 200,000 more affordable homes than planners say are needed into the South East.
The homes to be demolished in the North were mostly built pre-1919. Many will currently be occupied.
They have been identified, however, as being in areas of "low demand" and "market failure" under an action plan for the North drawn up by three regional development agencies and launched by Mr Prescott at the Sustainable Communities conference in Manchester last week.
The plan, the latest refinement of a strategy called the Northern Way, has enraged conservationists fighting to save the North's Victorian terraces by calling for "clear financial incentives to facilitate clearance rather than repair".
Demolition goes directly against advice to the Government from English Heritage that renovating Victorian terraces is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and better for the social fabric than demolition.
Critics accuse Mr Prescott of using the regional bodies – which are not democratically elected – as a vehicle with which to bypass English Heritage, the Culture Department, its sponsor department, the Department for the Environment, the Treasury or local authorities.
The Government's first mention of the number of homes that it plans to demolish in the North lies buried in the 80-page strategy Moving Forward: the Northern Way. The vast majority of delegates at the conference will not have read it.
The document says that 1.5 million homes in the North are in areas of "market failure" or abandonment. It quotes, approvingly, the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, which suggests that up to 400,000 should be replaced.
The document continues: "Based on current rates, over the next 10 years some 167,000 homes will be cleared. This is well below the rate required." Sir Graham Hall, the chairman of the Northern Way steering group, described the plan as "a once in a lifetime chance for the North to shape its own destiny by bringing about change".
Mr Prescott described the action plan as "a major milestone in our efforts to close the prosperity gap between the northern regions and the rest of the country".
But Adam Wilkinson, of SAVE Britain's Heritage, said: "I am astounded by the figure of 400,000 homes to be demolished. It represents a colossal loss of heritage.
"It is extraordinary that the Government say they need to subsidise demolition when that money could be better spent repairing and rehabilitating buildings."
Caroline Spelman, the Tory spokesman for local government, said: "If you want to destroy the character of our northern towns and cities this is the way to go about it. We appear to have learnt nothing. John Prescott's plan to shift economic regeneration south is going to help no one."
Henry Oliver, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "The sheer folly of these plans is breathtaking. Slash and burn now seems to be the key instrument of Government policy."
A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said: "This is the Northern Way's report. We have not responded to that particular issue – the number of houses to be demolished.
"We have asked them to come back in April with a full business plan of all the things they need funding for, whether that is demolition or refurbishment."
Monday, February 07, 2005
- ► 2011 (51)
- ► 2010 (174)
- ► 2009 (115)
- ► 2008 (179)
- ► 2007 (210)
- ► 2006 (392)
- Will this be the downfall of the assemblies?
- Leader of North East Assembly's Criminal Convictio...
- Local Government Act 1972 - Section 143
- Local Government Act 1972 - Sections 137
- Local Government Act 1972-Sections 94, 95, 96
- Prevention of Terrorism Bill exposes Metric Martyr...
- How we voted no and meant yes
- Will the Terrorism Bill 'free' the Metric Martyrs?...
- Another blunder by the Electoral Commission
- It was you who wrote Magna Carta, my Lords. And no...
- Dividing and ruling
- Inland Revenue Lawyers in Disarray
- Bill of Rights 1689 explained
- Metric Martyr's Stitch up explained
- New funding for assembly?
- An apology from BBC's Jeremy Vine
- Trouble at Mill...Wakefield Council acting illegal...
- REGIONAL ASSEMBLY
- Find your MEP
- Investigation: This man wants to hit BT with a bas...
- Pro Forma Letter to MEP's
- The Pensioners’ rallying cry should be: No link, n...
- Raising concerns over plans for homes
- BBC's Jeremy Vine Show drops Parking Ticket story
- Scathing report urges public inquiry to measure in...
- STAFF LEVELS AT ASSEMBLY REVEALED
- Legal twist exposes 'miscarriage of justice' for t...
- 'Talking shop' funds are cut
- Regions miss out on EU concessions
- REGIONAL ASSEMBLY
- Regional Assemblies
- Ringing endorsement for assembly by Government
- Devolution 'could spark EU power struggle'
- Bringing order to the regions, Paperclip policy ta...
- LEADER ANGERED BY POWER OF ASSEMBLY
- 400,000 homes in North face demolition
- Council set to pull plug on assembly
- FPB: Scrap ‘abject’ regional assemblies and save £...
- 'In a Nutshell'...the Government's Dilemma £1billi...
- NORTH-EAST ASSEMBLY
- Prescott focuses on local level in U-turn
- People of the region were frightened by scare stor...
- Tory wants Assembly out
- Parking Tickets...Administrative Bodies out of Con...
- Now it's starting to happen
- ▼ February (45)