Memorandum by the Whitefield Conservation
Action Group (AH 88)
1. THE POTENTIAL
1.1 The benefits of people owning their
own home can only be a good thing, it promotes the familial security
of them owning their own property, which in turn, gives them a
stable environment, "grounds" them to an area that they
want/wish to live in, fosters pride in their home and surroundings,
and if work is available in the imminent location, gives them
the freedom of financial security to plan for their future. It
also strengthens the community, work places, environment and area
in the long run and encourages trade and further work to this
type of stable environment.
1.2 The majority of owner-occupiers already
exist within all the Pathfinder areas, the problem that has arisen
now, is that Government, Pathfinders and Local Authorities are
interfering with the natural elements of existing Communities
and demolishing the homes that the people already own instead
of building on what is already there. People want to live as and
where they wish, not with Governments or by someone else's aspirations
1.3 The Pathfinders have gone into areas
that should and could have been handled differently and have created
a massive rip in the "human" fabric that Government
say they want to help and maintain. By NOT helping to sustain
existing Communities in their own homes, Local Authorities are
enforcing a mass migration out of homeowner-occupied homes into
the rented sector and changing the scope and scale of resident's
lives and livelihoods to fit a Government "Dream"!
2. THE EXTENT
2.1 The rented sector comprising of people
in a position to have a more transient outlook with no fixed roots,
many with no care for the neighbours, the property, the place
or the peace . . . others still who have no option but to obtain
a roof over their heads no matter where for many reasons, perhaps
to shelter and safeguard their families, be near their work, or
have an address to get work . . . or, in the case of Clearance/CPO's,
no other option! The drawback in the rented sector is the worry
that the landlords can end the tenancy at anytime, for any reason
. . . and no one can stop them!
2.2 If you take away owner-occupiers homes
and not give them the TRUE home value (as Government say they
should have, but which is not happening!) you are enforcing poverty
on the people, for many it may be the only thing they own, taking
away their pride and forcing them to move to other properties
in other areas, where they do not want to live by their own choice,
or affordability away from Community, family, shops, schools,
work, etc they are being shunted around like cattle to other areas,
where it will all start again, all to afford the Local Authorities
and Construction Companies an area big enough for redevelopment
of what they want and the biggest profit they can make . . . no
one cares about the communities and it is not helping the people
elevate themselves out of the "alleged" poverty Government
say we are in!
2.3 People want homes to live in, not just
a property that may or may not realise a profit, they want somewhere
to put down roots, we in England are not nomadic by lifestyle,
We need to settle and grow, this Government by it's actions of
introducing the dangling Gold Carrot of billions of pounds over
our heads, has created a situation whereby no one wins . . . except
the Local Authorities, Pathfinder, Construction Companies, and
2.4 In all of this Select Committee Response,
we have yet to see anything about propagating the work sector,
industry, shops, factories, offices that will provide alongside
the housing and communities the financial security to raise people
out of "poverty," to purchase a house you have to have
money, to have money you have to have work, to have work you need
a house . . . ! It is no use refurbishing houses or building new
without providing the infrastructure of Industry to go with it!
. . . Home purchase tackles social
inequalities . . . if this means outgoing, friendly, compatible
and sustainable communities, then . . . yes . . . (but we already
have this now without the intervention of Government and others!)
. . . Home purchase tackles economic
this part of the question is a pre-supposition
that people buy a property to get a profit back, the vast majority
of people buying a Home, is to live in it, not to sell on . .
. although they would expect the equity at a possible later date
to justify buying another home elsewhere, should they need a bigger/smaller
house . . . not everyone has the glint of gold in their eyes,
which is what this question is inferring?
. . . Home purchase tackles and reduces
poverty . . . This part of the question does not make sense if
you are talking financially? How can bricks and mortar reduce
people's poverty? Self-respect, Emotional and Spiritual well-being,
are things that people need and it is a basic law still in the
Magna Carta that everyone has the right to a roof over their head,
and the peace to enjoy it, and not have it taken away from them
against their will . . . (and be given a pittance for the years
they have spent making it a home,) which is what the Local Authorities,
Pathfinders and Government are doing now!
3. THE ECONOMIC
3.1 This is a false market brought on by
Government Projects and implemented by the Pathfinders and Councils!
Because it has been forced, the economic impact is one of people
struggling to buy a home!
3.2 The current house prices at this time
are killing the economy, and forcing people out of the market
. . . and due to the fact that Government has instigated a "price
hike" by again dangling the "Golden Carrot", Local
Authorities, Pathfinders, RSL's and Speculators have done the
rest by taking property off the market and boarding up the only
form of housing that would give people the opportunity to get
onto the ladder, or down-size to fit their needs!
3.3 In all of the areas affected by Pathfinder,
(prior to the HMRI,) very few landlords or RSL companies existed,
(Speculators were none existent!) now it seems that you can't
turn around without falling over them, and these are the very
people that hold the Pathfinders and Local Authorities to ransom
and eventually will kill any scheme anyone wants to put forward,
these people/companies are in league with the local authorities
and are conspiring to throw out tenants, board up properties and
contribute to the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) as to
the Low Demand and Abandonment housing figures which the Government
is going off . . . seems Government has a step or three missing
there, whereby the reason for abandonment and the "alleged"
Low Demand is not qualified! Very few families want to rent, but
have to do so to put a roof over their heads. They are obliged
to rent because they have just lost their homes to looming Clearance/CPO's,
or the landlord has terminated their tenancy agreement to board
the properties up for a "hopeful killing".
3.4 The people who are living in the homes
that the councils want to acquire are not being offering the True
Housing Market Value as Government say they are supposed to .
. . if new housing is built, where are the people going to find
the difference to purchase them, many will not be able to obtain
a mortgage such as OAP's, those who are out of work, or sick,
and no one wants to go from owning a home outright to one that
they only own half of and have to maintain and be responsible
for the other shared half! It is hardly "Shared Ownership"
and certainly not fair . . . is it? Nor is it fair to force people
into obtaining mortgages (if they can get one?) if they don't
want or cannot afford one!
4. THE RELATIONSHIP
4.1 See the above three questions . . .
they all pertain to this question . . . and those below . . .
4.2 By closing down the demand (by boarded
up or demolishing housing now) you cut off the supply of perfectly
good, solid, affordable, warm homes that people want and need,
then the prices go up further . . . ! You figure it out!
Whatever way you work the statistics, you fail
to realise that the Victorian Terraces are the cheapest form of
more than adequate housing in the British Isles! Not even Government
can best that!
5. OTHER FACTORS
5.1 Negative factors influencing the affordability
of housing for sale are Government, Pathfinders, Local Authorities,
RSL's, Speculators, Construction Companies, Government Quango's
such as English Partnerships, County Councils, CABE and others,
who are throwing spanners into the works by jumping on the bandwagon
wanting their way!
5.2 Government fails to realise yet again,
that what you come up with you expect us to live with your mistakes,
at the end of the day you can put your hat and coat on and go
we are left with the mess you leave behind, and let
us tell you . . . this is one heck of a mess!
5.3 Here in the North, we have superb, solid
Victorian homes and other buildings that can be easily converted
to work places that people do want to live and work in, all areas
have environments that are unique to their own area that the communities
identify as their own, they contain history and heritage and a
sense of place and belonging . . . (taking that away from people,
is to crush them under the Governments thumb by directives that
has no structure, no clarity and certainly no strategy, except
to go for land grabs and altered Planning Laws to fit . . . )
not very democratic, is it!
5.4 Financial instance . . . A meeting of
the Executive . . . of Blackburn Council on Thursday 15 September
confirms that for one of their clearance areas the costs are;
Clearance £7.5 million, Refurbishment £9 million . .
. The difference? VAT . . . !VAT on refurbished property as opposed
to none on new build is preposterous, this is a massive flaw in
the Governments plans and needs immediate attention . . . it's
a question of Government paying itself!
6. THE SCALE
6.1 The Government is not boosting a housing
supply within the North of England, in fact they are reducing
the supply by about half of those demolished . . . at the same
time they are stuffing as many houses into areas in the South
that will overwhelm the whole infrastructure and cause untold
chaos for years, nay decades to come.
6.2 Government has said that it wants to
even out the housing supply throughout the Kingdom. What is needed
is a "steady" well structured, guaranteed . . . house
building programme to try and keep pace with the current UK housing
shortage, and it needs to be evenly spread. Why keep-promoting
demolitions when you know deep down . . . it is not the answerwhich
is only one of the reasons why we are advocating renovation and
repair rather than demolition. It makes no sense to shove everything
to the bottom of the Country and leave nothing elsewhere. For
what possible reason? This is definitely a flawed plan!
6.3 The whole scheme is an uneven disaster
that is about to happen, the Pathfinder Project is on too big
a scale to do or get anything right. Too many quangos, agencies,
companies, partnerships and trusts of all descriptions have their
fingers in this to make a difference to the lives of the people
except to make them poorer and put them through a living hell
of not knowing what is to become of them or their livelyhoods!
6.4 I think we need some new civil servants
with some innovative ideas and who can think outside the box,
instead of "Oh, lets demolish and start againafter
all it's not our money we're wasting, just the taxpayer's!"
7. THE RELATIVE
7.1 The majority of people want to own homes
of their own, it is important to give the people what they want
and to give them a sense of place, pride and responsibility of
their home and environment. In Whitefield, rentals are few and
temporary and generally used only as a stopgap until a house comes
up for sale in the Ward! Subsidised housing would not work here
either, houses in Whitefield are at a premium, as soon as an estate
agents "for sale" sign goes up on a house, usually within
five days, it is removedsold!
7.2 A broad brush sweep cannot be used as
a general cure all, all areas will have to be assessed as to what
will work or not, the balance will have to be close enough for
it to work, the supply and demand will sort itself out.
8. HOW THE
8.1 Care will have be taken that the Planning
System does not respond to plans submitted for "just any"
housing because there "may be" a demand, house types
are smaller these days than the ones being targeted for demolition
and certainly don't have the character of the Victorian terraces,
nor the solidity of them either!
8.2 The planning system is there to regulate
planning policies, protect Greenfield sites etc, which it doesn't
always do. By altering the planning laws to fit Government schemes
will open the floodgates for any and all private developers to
build what they want, where they want . . . to the detriment of
the Environment, Greenfield Sites and Historic Areas . . . who
can argue then?
9. THE SCALE
9.1 The first part of this question ie:
the scale of housing development required to influence house prices,
seems to be based on an assumption that the house prices are not
high enough, and that by building less than the dwellings proposed
for demolition as replacements will sort out the problem? Whoever
thought of that idea should be thrown out of office!
9.2 What is happening is the fact that housing
is being demolished to make way for road widening schemes, or
academy's, and/or demolishing 1200 homes leaving massive open
areas the sizes of two and three football pitches put together,
with no housing new build in sight, this as far as I am aware
is not within the HMRI "handbook" ( . . . correct me
if I am wrong?) I was given to understand that if housing is taken
away, then housing must replace it?
9.3 The second part of the question ie:
the impact of promoting such a programme on the natural and historical
environment and infrastructure provision, by demolishing the Victorian
terraces is a blatant destruction of our Northern Heritage and
Environment and it will impact on this and us in a dreadful way
9.4 Steady house refurbishment, (and a no
demolition) programme here in the north with provisions for relocation
of homeowners . . . from the South to the North and relocation
grants for industry too, would fill our homes and buildings and
retain the Character and Identity that is uniquely ours.
10. THE REGIONAL
10.1 Government say's, that there are too
many houses in the North and not enough in the South, in case
someone forgot to mention it, too much is happening in the South,
which contains most of the Industry and is already grossly overcrowded
. . . the North has the houses but is lacking in Industry and
their workers! This needs evening up first before any demolition
and new build occurs? . . . Stop making things happen in the South
and move things to the North and Midlands, encourage businesses
to move or new ones to set up . . . in the "alleged"
low demand areas!
10.2 Cut out the "middle man"
ie the property speculators and if they buy, then they must move
into the house within 3 months if not a big penalty needs to be
The Governments intervention in the housing
market is causing poverty! The market, even as far back as 1999-2000,
was already on the rise before Government interfered.
What should have happened naturally was a subtle
inflation of house prices that people could and would have accepted
and too, maintained their sales of one property for the purchase
of the next, without bankrupting themselves or going into debt.
When the Government "blindly" stepped
in with assumptions based on an "academic paper exercise,"
that is years out of date, it has started something that is now
out of control and this Country will feel the repercussions for
decades to come.
need to stop what they
are doing now and re-assess the whole situation from start to
finish; it needs a better structure, a more coherent plan, and
better clarity in its outline.
In fact it would be better to arrange for a
member from each of the Pathfinder Areas Community Groups to discuss
with the ODPM exactly what is required of those areas by the people
themselves and not rely on second hand information, costly consultants
and other peoples aspirations that are not ours?