Every now and again we strike up brief conversations with life’s fellow travellers. While waiting for a bus perhaps. I’d like to think, in a few minutes, I could convince you my fellow traveller waiting to travel that there’s something very wrong indeed with the policy of Council estate regeneration.
For a start, notice how the term Council housing morphed into Social housing, with its sly implication of being “on the social”? After all a fair slice of working people receive state support in the form of in-work benefits, no matter where they live. While incredibly enough, plenty of working people live in Council flats. As far as I’m concerned the Council element of my home comes from the initials on the pipework outside, LCC; London County Council.
It’s the same as the way affordable housing has ousted the term Council housing, when they are in no way similar. Council homes have a fair rent but affordable homes have rents fixed at up to 80% of private rents, which continue to rocket. Meaning that when Council flats are regenerated, the tenants cannot afford the rents charged for the new-build properties, and are effectively booted out of an area they could have grown up in.
Surely spending money to spruce up existing Council flats, with tenants given as much input on individual properties as possible, would be much kinder?
All too often a regeneration scheme is voted through, with a master plan promising plenty of new Council flats. But once the bulldozers are well into their work the developer argues for the master plan to be revised, removing sizeable numbers of the promised new Council flats in the process. Why? Because they worry that the proximity of Council flats will lower the value of their new-build properties. At that point they’ve got the Local Authority over a developer-built barrel.
Yet many people seem to think that a misfortune will never occur to them or someone they hold dear, which makes every reduction in the welfare state seem both necessary and desirable. Reductions such as the bedroom tax.
But you’re not one of those people, are you, fellow queuer? No, I didn’t think so. Well, you’ve listened politely and now it’s your turn.