So if you build a tower block in the middle of Calderstones park you point to all the greenery that was there anyway and say look at all the open space we're giving you (not look at the lump of concrete we've stuck into the middle of it for you?)
I'm not privvy to what materials were used but suffice to say, on some of the blocks, it seemed that large chunks of the cladding came away.
Updated weekly with old and new pics.
Alton_530x324 by Peter McGurk, on Flickr
How old is that cladding mate? and who put it there?
---------- Post added at 01:38 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:07 PM ----------
The despair and loneliness of the new inhabitants of tower blocks can be put down to being ripped away from your community and finding yourself amongst strangers miles from ‘home’ and everything known - there’s no doubt about that. It can also be put down to not being able to get out (because of faulty lifts for example) and not having anywhere to go when you do get out (no pubs, no shops).
But remember, the drive of the time was to get people out of insanely insanitary and cramped conditions (largely without the funds needed to do it). Of course there’s better housing but who would (or could) pay?
The new government after the war quite rightly wanted action and action now. The country was however broke. Rationing hadn’t finished. The time of ‘post-war austerity’.
It would have been spectacularly unfair (and ultimately frustrating ie., it wouldn’t have happened) to ask people themselves to solve the conundrum of re-housing tens and hundreds of thousands of people without the funds to do it. If it had happened, the end of that conversation might have been ‘but we want this!’ to which the reply might have been ‘we haven’t got the money’.
The first Labour council in Liverpool acted vigorously on the Housing Subsidies Act of 1956. This actively encouraged high rise. The higher you built, the more subsidy was received. Not only was it cheaper to build higher but there was more from government to do it!
The National Building Agency was formed in the 1960s to further rationalise construction and construction costs. This provided even greater impetus to build high, build cheap and build with factory-produced parts. This of course ended up rather badly (Ronan Point) - not for want of good design but for want of appropriate on-site practice to match the accuracy of the factory-made product ie., they were built 'badly'.
Nonetheless... in 1954, 88000 dwellings in Liverpool were condemned as ‘unfit’ and ‘unhealthy’ by parliament. Building on empty and blitzed land yielded only 13000 homes even by 1961. Whereas the new estates eventually re-housed up to 200,000 people - just at the start.
There was also a drive from the Labour Party to ‘open up the countryside’ for the benefit of the inner city communities - of course in the face of opposition from the Tory landed gentry. Nevertheless, Liverpool were given powers under the Liverpool Corporation Act 1936 as exercised under The Merseyside Plan of 1944 to do just that.
The corporation might have two choices - stay where we are and slowly improve what we had, someday maybe, or wholesale re-location, now. Faced with the economics (and the politics) of the time, the move to the country was almost unstoppable.
Many European cities (that didn't become doughnut cities) had less problems. They did not have the slums that we had, the wealth gap that we had (or still have) nor did they all have the blitz or the urgent need for houses. Nevertheless even the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" (hey, I didn't say it) built huge out of town high-rise suburbs.
That series of decisions made, examples were taken from home and from overseas. In the UK - the ‘Garden City Movement’ (of Welwyn Garden City fame) had a huge influence on the layout of the new estates. And in Europe, tower blocks in France were and are successful. But the big influence on tower blocks came via the States.
And the estates here were planned rather better than there perhaps (?), with all of the facilities and open space needed to support them. Not callously but responsibly and taking into account what was and what was not achievable.
What was achieved was astonishing but the pace of expansion was just as staggering. The places to go and places to meet got left behind in the blizzard of house building and budget allocation. Some eventually caught up. Some never did. Some were buried in maintenance debt.
If you look at some of them now, there are vast areas of ‘green’ (not a tree in sight) surrounded by boarded up and burnt out houses.
[It’s nteresting to note that in a recent public consultation in North Huyton, people did NOT want trees - I think to protect their cars. Of course car ownership was three parts of zip in the 1950s]
But if you look at others... I took a walk down Storrington Avenue the other day. I haven’t been there for literally 30 years. There’s (open) shops. People living over them still. Done up houses. A (digital) library. A ‘Communiversity’. Tended gardens. People saying hello. I thought I was dreaming.
People’s sense of belonging is important. It is a kind of 'ownership' - whether tenant or freeholder. It's nearly as important as a sense of responsibility. We have to do our share. When our Mums and Dads moved into these places there was a greater sense of social responsibility. There was.
As time has gone by and with successive Housing Acts, councils have been forced to move from a selective allocation to a ‘needs-based’ allocation ie., those least capable of looking after their greater need, get priority. Agree or disagree, that’s how it is.
The result has been to turn large sections of social housing into poor ghettoes where those who are least capable of even transferring decent standards of behaviour to their children are in the minority but still dominate. The result? High maintenance costs. Not as a factor of ‘bad design’ but more as a factor of lack of responsibility.
Personally I would no sooner drop a bed out of a window than leave a single piece of paper blown into the front garden. I definitely wouldn’t be on the phone to council to pick it up.
And don’t forget. Buildings must be maintained. It’s a given. You can’t expect it to stand there forever. The ‘lifetime warranty’ of a house (without significant repair) is normally about thirty years. Ten or twelve under an NHBC guarantee - not eternity. There’s a budget for that, buildings are designed for that (why pay more?) and if that budget is blown via vandalism, what then? Is that a design fault?
[Actually some designs are now incorporating ‘vandal proofing’ - not surprisingly, some do look like brick ‘outhouses’ and are phenomenally expensive as a result - check out your local police station for example]
There are (low-rise) estates, identical in design in every respect. Some are beautifully looked after. Tended, Cared for. Some... look like Beirut, literally - houses in some cases, literally, blown, up. Design fault?
Some of those estates may have taken forty years to find their pride and sense of community again but it does exist. Ask most people whether they're proud to live in Kirkby. It has happened.
In the meantime, maybe those who were 'left behind' in 19th century terraced housing blighted by lack of funds and anti-social behaviour are worse off than those who went to the 'country'. It would be interesting to know (I did ask) what people thought of the new housing in Kensington and Everton. Good. Bad. Which is it? Are 'we' learning or not?
There are remains of the high rise (parts of) estates, mostly, in fact mainly, in good use. Some things haven’t worked and a lot of them have gone. Perhaps not from ‘faulty design’ (for the reasons explained). The fundamental concept seems to work. How else is it that people are buying what others have previously p*ssed on...?
Perhaps those designs are ‘fine now’ because the social economic and political constraints that built them have gone. The concept of high rise and high rise cost efficiencies remain but the 'difficult' industrialised claddings have been replaced, the flats are smaller, the 'right' people (smaller or no families) are in them and the money (was) there to look after them.
Even that, it turns out, may be just an illusion - other people’s money.
That leaves us with a(nother) potentially inconvenient truth. Since the history of social housing in this country has always been about subsidy. It would be natural to assume that in general, we cannot afford the housing we feel we deserve?
European models rely less on enrichment via freehold and more on renting to the general betterment and greater disposable income of all. Here, we have so-called 'men of the people' actively encouraging the cynical aping of the landed gentry they espouse to hate through the exploitation of the less well-off via home ownership and belting increases in house prices (hiya Waterways!).
This country sneers at renting or even posh-renting (leasehold). It's beneath us it seems. And, in this country. Even here. We'd rather focus on resentment and blame than sorting out the calamitous social conditions that got us here.
[Chas, I reckon 131 is in there somewhere too]
Now - out of that data you tell me which is the land that’s empty. Even accepting your figures of the value of agricultural use as 2.5% of the UK economy, I wonder how much food it generates to sustain the population. 100%? I doubt it, if any supermarket shelf is anything to go by. We don’t even have enough land to feed ourselves.
So full of it.
Again... this is what I call empty
The brownfield sites in the North End:
northbrownfield by Peter McGurk, on Flickr
Add to that... the population of the Liverpool side of the 'Atlantic Gateway Strategic Investment Area' - all of the land between the railway and the river between the city centre and boundary with Sefton plus most of the Leeds Street area is... precisely zero. That's what I call empty:
000_100outlinesmll by Peter McGurk, on Flickr
Philadelphia & Lawyers comes to mind.
NUTscape PEEL navigator-
a certifiable loony!
The Wind Cries Mersey
Most of the UK is empty. I gave the figures. I never made them up.Now - out of that data you tell me which is the land that’s empty.
It is a subsidized industry that if market forces were applied would mostly fold. The cities of Liverpool and Sheffield, were virtually killed by allowing imports of cheaper steel from abroad an the rundown of manufacturing. This created great misery and distress to their large populations. Yet agriculture is subsidised to the hilt having land allocated to it which clearly can be better utilised for the greater good of British society.Even accepting your figures of the value of agricultural use as 2.5% of the UK economy, I wonder how much food it generates to sustain the population.
The justification for subsidising agriculture is that we need to eat. We also need steel and cars in our modern society, yet the auto and steel industries were allowed to fall away to cheaper competition from abroad, and especially the Far East. Should taxpayers money be propping up an economically small industry that consumes vast tracts of land that certainly could be better used? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
The UK has imported food since the the mid 1800s. Most of our wheat come from North America. Cheap fast transportation (the steam ship and trains) had meant food, animal and human, could be transported between continents. This prevented European famines. The USA and Canada were pouring out cereals super cheap which affected European agriculture setting it back. German, French and UK agriculture was mainly outdated to North America's. Global food production was in the hands of the USA and UK using the UKs sea lanes and massive merchant fleet to transport food - animal and human consumption. Liverpool was a massive grain importing and processing port. The second largest gain process place on earth.
Food transportation between continents did not apply only to cereals. For e.g., Liverpool companies owned vast tracts of Argentina processing beef and transporting it to the UK and other European ports in refrigerated ships. The Vesty empire owned massive ranches, processing plants and the shipping fleets to transport the meat products - total vertical integration to the point they owned the shops it was sold in. Only oil companies ever achieved such total control of their products.
The UK had a backward agricultural system in parts, however controlled food importation across continents.
Again... this is what I call empty
The brownfield sites in the North End:
They are empty and should be rebuilt properly. But to imply that the UK's housing crisis can be solved by building on brownfield sites is ludicrous. Simple stats prove that. Onky 14% can be accommodated on brownfield and if brownfield is turned to parks, etc, far less.
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