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Beatles AREN'T for sale: Welsh Streets demolition plan thrown out by Pickles

Furious Mayor Anderson calls decision unacceptable, dishonourable and completely perverse

Written by . Published on January 16th 2015.

Beatles AREN'T for sale: Welsh Streets demolition plan thrown out by Pickles

Liverpool’s Welsh Streets have been saved from demolition today - with a little help from an unprecedented “friend” - Ringo Starr.

The fate of the Dingle terraces became worldwide news because one of the houses – Number 9 Madryn Street – was the birthplace of the Beatles drummer.

But today Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles recognised something that seemed to be lost on a city that allowed the original Cavern Club to disappear: the importance of the Beatles to Liverpool's culture.

He cited the Fab Four in his decision to throw out plans to wipe the Welsh Streets off the map, even though an independent planning inspector had given the controversial regeneration scheme the thumbs-up.

But the mood music was lost on Mayor Joe Anderson who immediately condemned the decision, describing it as "unacceptable, dishonourable and completely perverse".


Ringo Starr

The frontage of Ringo's house, along with more than 30 of neighbouring two-up, two-down terraced houses in Madryn Street, was destined to remain as part of the scheme, after a public outcry saw plans redrawn. But hundreds more in streets with Welsh names were to be turned into rubble, with new semis built.

But that wasn't good enough, said Pickles, who referred to what would be left of Number 9 as a "stub". He ruled that the demolition of much of Madryn Street would "significantly harm the ability to understand and appreciate this part of Liverpool’s Beatles heritage". 

"Although there are many other surviving terraced streets in the area where visitors could go to see a similar environment to the one where Ringo Starr was born, the Secretary of State places importance on the actual street where he was born and he agrees with (campaign group) SAVE that the proposals would be short sighted as regards the future tourism potential of Madryn Street," said the report.

Pickles' judgement came in in a wide ranging, 81-page ruling, here, in which he declared he did not agree with the planning inspector’s opinion that the streets were "of low significance for Liverpool’s heritage".

The scheme had divided opinion, with many residents wanting the clearance scheme to go ahead while others said the houses should be refurbished.

The regeneration plan which was backed, the city council insisted, by 70 percent of residents – meant 271 damp and rundown homes would be demolished and replaced by 154 new houses in a scheme designed by housing group Plus Dane. Another 37 terraced properties, including some of Madryn Street, would have been refurbished.

But Pickles, agreeing with conservationists, described the scheme design as "poor". He went on to condemn it for inefficient use of space with "the focus on the private plot rather than the collective street". He also criticised the new houses themselves saying they would not be much larger than the existing terraces in terms of internal floor space.

An infuriated Mayor Anderson was swift to respond. “This is yet another kick in the teeth for the long-suffering residents of the Welsh Streets, who have now been waiting more than a decade for new homes," he said.

 “I was prepared to abide by the decision of an independent inspector even if it had gone against us, but it is unacceptable, dishonourable and completely perverse for Eric Pickles to continue to ignore local leadership, local people and then hold and pay for an independent Public Inquiry using taxpayers money, which he then ignores for naked political posturing.

 “Yet again, this Government talks about localism but then interferes in the wishes of local people. It is absolutely appalling and smacks of the very worst type of political interference from Whitehall.

 “The residents of the Welsh Streets have already waited far too long for regeneration. They have shown real determination, resilience and fantastic community spirit, to fight for modern, family homes.

 “I would like to reassure them that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in finding a way through this to deliver the new homes that they long for, and deserve.  We will be looking straight away at how we can challenge this dreadful decision.”

Nina Edge, spokesman for the Welsh Streets Home Group of residents, described the decision as shocking news and appealed for Liverpool City Council and the Government to find some common ground to "end 11 years of Purgatory".

 "We have no way of knowing what will become of us now, or how long rebuilding our area will take," she said in a group statement.

"We call on the authorities to immediately resolve problems for residents in damp homes, and urgently progress with new plans for the Welsh Streets until they are restored or replaced. Our biggest worries are the continuing community stress and antagonism between LCC and central government that this decision creates.  We hope all parties will find some common ground and end our 11 year purgatory."

Today's decision follows a public inquiry last summer which looked in detail at plans by the council to compulsorily purchase the last eight of the 311 interests needed to deliver phases one and two of the £15 million scheme.

Three have already been cleared, two are residential properties and three are commercial units. Five are already vacant.

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38 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Paul WardJanuary 16th 2015.

Perhaps Pickles and Anderson could settle this with a sumo bout.

AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

More likely to be dancing in the streets of Jersey - home to the old Etonian President of SAVE Britain's Heritage. Always good to see our betters taking an interest in the squalor we should live in.

Eric RedJanuary 16th 2015.

Once again when a decision goes against Joe, the toys are thrown out of the pram! It's called "Democracy"not some thing he would understand! One puzzling thing though, Joe says these houses need demolishing, and will cost too much to re furbish? then why doesn't he give them away for a pound, like the houses in Liverpool 8, and that would solve the problem. Happy New Year Joe!

AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

"Democracy?" A secretary of state ignoring local people and elected representatives? Ah, but you agree with Pickles so then it must be "democracy" eh?

Eric RedJanuary 16th 2015.

You don't get it do you? It's just that Eric Pickles carries a bigger stick than bull boy Anderson and he doesn't like it!

AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

It is worth recalling that the council managed, in the early 1980s, to build many "modern, family homes". Perhaps Joe could consult Derek on how this can best be done? When I last checked, there were many acres of council land (in Knowsley) ripe for residential development. Further evidence that the Tories don't care.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJanuary 16th 2015.

Deggsi didn't build modern family homes. He did the least imaginative thing possible and built semi detached in the middle of the city.

AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

Based on Pickles' decision here, those houses of the 1980s would never have received permission. And if the land in Knowsley is so good for housing, why hasn't anyone built there? It can't be because of the Council because laws exist that can force their hand. Perhaps no one wants to build there? And Eric - it appears to be you who doesn't get "democracy".

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyJanuary 16th 2015.

The unmentioned thing here is VAT. There is no VAT on new build but there is on restoring. So that is a straight 20% onto the cost of refurb. I think every building should be entitle to a VAT free rebuild, say every 100 years, it might make a lot of difference.

the duke of devonshire roadJanuary 17th 2015.

Well said Bradders!

Reader XxxJanuary 16th 2015.

This is good news for the city region's visitor economy, the sector that is growing more quickly than any other. The house where Ringo was born is one of the "must see" locations for Beatles fans from all over the world. I don't know how the planning inspector could describe it as being "of low significance for Liverpool's heritage".

1 Response: Reply To This...
mickeydrippin'January 16th 2015.

May be good for the hoards of foreign Beatles fans and (amongst others) those who run the Magical Mystery Tour bus, but not much comfort for the majority of residents in the area who want new houses.

AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

Ringo's house a "must see"?? It genuinely is not. But saying that, are you really suggesting that if it were retained as part of a wider regeneration scheme (which is what was proposed) that the city's Beatles-based economy would be lost? Utter tripe. Meanwhile many people are left to live in squalor.

AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

INDEPENDENT PLANNING INSPECTOR: The planning application is a result of many years of assessments, studies, consultations and negotiations. The scheme has...been carefully considered taking all viewpoints into account. The social, economic & environmental benefits are all factors which, taken together, could bring about lasting regeneration of the...area long sought by LCC and local residents. It fully meets national and local plan policy and it would be sustainable development. I recommend that planning permission is granted. ERIC PICKLES: The Secretary of State disagrees with the Inspector’s recommendation and refuses planning permission

1 Response: Reply To This...
Eric RedJanuary 16th 2015.

Are you the planning inspector or Joe in disguise? Probably not just a crony of his who is doing his bidding!

Jd MoranJanuary 16th 2015.

If the plans had been approved how long are we saying the proposed new houses would last before they again would be deemed to be unsuitable and "in squalor". 20-30 years? Before yet again a lucrative housebuidling scheme would be proposed when again below-par small homes would be knocked up for the cycle to start again.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Entwistle HeightsJanuary 17th 2015.

Squalor is created by neglect and poor practices by landlords, be they public or private. Even tower blocks were considered pleasant, desirable places to live before they fell from fashion, became hard-to-let and were used as storage for 'problem families' by local authorities and let (at inflated prices) to anyone on Housing Benefit by private landlords.

Parker MorrisJanuary 17th 2015.

It is true that by the standards of thirty or more years ago these houses are small with tiny rooms, but these days they are comparable with the room-sizes in modern developments in this country. Successive governments since 1979 have repealed legislation applying to housing standards and the sizes of rooms in new dwellings, the reason we have the most cramped. miserable and expensive homes in Europe.

Lets get this straightJanuary 16th 2015.

For information purpose Deggsie didn't build the council houses on Walton Hall Park they were purchased off plan from the builder/developer. The council using the borrowed money from Swiss Banks. The houses were intended to be purchased as owner occupier! the down turn in the economy at the time left the developers in the doo doo. Regarding local democracy how many decisions on refusing to hand council stock over to housing associations, were rebuffed, by Two Jags, John Prescott . In Sefton he allowed a second ballot on the remit if the council get to hand over the housing stock on a second ballot he would pay for the ballot.

1 Response: Reply To This...
mickeydrippin'January 17th 2015.

I think you mean the houses built in the 1980s on disused railway land, known as Walton Triangle. This is just north of Walton Hall Park, - not in the park itself.

SootyJanuary 16th 2015.

got your eye wiped there joe!...nice one eric

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

Cracking turn of phrase, not heard that one for ages!

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2015.

You forgot the Nerrrrr!

Green TambourineJanuary 16th 2015.

I hope they save the TREES!!! And the MICE!!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

Get that caps lock key fixed FFS

Mary HuxhamJanuary 16th 2015.

The house were Ringo lived from AGED FOUR TO TWENTY ONE is on the opposite side of High Park Street to Madryn Streetand will remain.Ringo said he does NOT remember the house he lived in up to four years old, only the Admiral Grove house.The front of the Madryn St.house are NOT EVEN the original bricks,as a new frontage was built because the original wall was collapsing in the 70's.The only people to benefit financially from any so called heritage tourism are the Tour Companies & taxis it contributes NOTHING to the local businesses or community. Residents have been fighting for the demolition & newbuild for 15 years, when the Govt keep extolling the virues of local people being able to decide on what should happen in their neighbourhood. Pickles uses his powers to condemn others to live in bad housing out of pure malice.So much for Localism

Josie MullenJanuary 16th 2015.

I agree with John Bradly - restoring houses, rather than a new-build, which would fragment an established community, is far more environmentally friendly and should be VAT free

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

Jeez, there's a phrase you don't hear very often on here!

SaladDazeJanuary 16th 2015.


1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 17th 2015.

Good film I hear?

onetenorJanuary 16th 2015.

I can but wonder. Are finances being bandied about ? If Ringo wasn't born there how long a go would the C.P.O.'s have been forced through like the Edge Lane widening plan. How flaming wide was it meant to be .Vast areas of land and property were levelled and the full development is till not complete over 8 years later. This sucks of slum clearance by the back door. to me. Many of the people in those areas had lived there 30 or 40 years or more and did not really want to move. They did not receive a fair payment fo their homes and many now owe money to the council from their estate when they pass away and any family living in the home cannot inherit when the named home owners pass away. Will this eventually happen in the Welsh Streets ?

Judith PattersonJanuary 17th 2015.

Im happy with that decision, if the houses in that area wernt left to look horrible, there wouldn't be much to do, joe Anderson need a boot up that big but of his and do something, earn the right to be mayor.

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2015.

Let's not waste any more time and expense. Just work together to refurbish the area. When it's done everyone, including the mayor, will cherish the area so much. Good old Wilfred Pickles, let's all send him five bob.

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2015.

The real villains of Liverpool are not campaigners fighting to save real, established communities, but the greedy, heartless housing associations with their highly paid executives (six figure salaries must of them). They set their sights on a community, swoop in like vultures, buying up houses, boarding them up until the rot sets in, then coming in for the kill, armed with bulldozers, and in the process dividing the hearts and minds of communities. I'm so amazed councillors are taken in by them. Let the Welsh Streets be a beacon of hope for similar communities across the country. Where there is a will, there is a way.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 17th 2015.

Dave spart has joined the debate!

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2015.

We should tear down this slum and build a monument to the greatest band the northwest ever produced, perhaps a solid gold statue of Morrissey and Marr. We can also honour lesser acts and have the ceremonial Paul McCartney public urinal and Ringo Starr Bidet!

AnonymousJanuary 19th 2015.

The people campaigning for the Welsh Streets to survive have no motive save for wanting to preserve a community. It is clear some of those livid at the decision seem to demand wholesale demolition for very different reasons.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJanuary 19th 2015.

Do you live in the Welsh Streets?

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