Dear Mr Cameron, here's why your plan for "sink estates" is completely WRONG

Ben Radstone and Nick Kalms, YouSpotProperty.com on lessons from Broadwater Farm Estate

The intention is right, the plan is wrong. At a time when there is an ever-increasing waiting list for social housing - especially in the Capital - pledging a national budget of a £140m to ‘solve crime and blitz poverty’ won’t scratch the surface.

This initial sum can possibly pay the bill of rebuilding one single estate, so it cannot benefit the so-called 100 target estates around the UK.

The reality is, people don’t want the disruption to their lives of being moved out of their homes.

The argument of reducing crime by rebuilding modern or aesthetically pleasing developments is sketchy. Take North London’s Broadwater Farm Estate for example, while the centre of the infamous riots 31 years ago following the death of Cynthia Jarret, its crime rate is now well below the borough-wide average. Investment over years in concierge systems and a state of the art childcare centre have improved standards and living conditions significantly.

Can the Conservative government also guarantee that estates in London which are earmarked to be replaced will simply allow previous residents to move into their newly built homes? How long will this take and where will they go in the interim? If the government replaces these estates with starter homes capped at £450,000, does the prime minister honestly believe the same residents will simply be able to move back?

What will cause greater social unrest will be uprooting entire communities from their homes.

A better solution is to improve what we already have. This in terms of security, social services and community cohesion. Money spent on these areas have proven to work.

Another overlooked area of improvement without disrupting neighbourhoods and uprooting families, is to tackle the high numbers of long term empty and derelict properties around the capital and further around the country.  

London has 22,000 long-term empty properties out of England’s 660,000 and there are no robust plans, from any of the political parties, to tackle the issue.  We also know London councils are in some cases the biggest culprits in having many of the long term empty and derelict houses under their care. We know from freedom of information that Lambeth Council, for example, has nearly 350 houses sitting empty for the past year, and a further 180 for the past two years!

If the councils had the support of the government, whereby funds could be allocated to help develop otherwise uninhabitable or long-term empty homes, it would alleviate the waiting list for social housing and would improve many neighbourhoods around the capital avoiding majorly disruptive building projects.

The government needs to prioritise improving what we have before uprooting those benefitting from existing secure tenancy.

Ben Radstone and Nick Kalms are founders of YouSpotProperty.com, a website that rewards Londoners for reporting empty and derelict homes.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • The strongest argument in support of your case is history! Just looked at what happened in the 60's with the pulling down of 'unsuitable' back to back terraced housing,. communities ripped apart to be replaced with crime invested 'modern' blocks.

    There is nothing more worrying than a politician with good intentions!

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