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Council to fight Welsh Streets ruling by Pickles

'We are not prepared to stand by and see local people ignored'

Written by . Published on February 27th 2015.

Council to fight Welsh Streets ruling by Pickles

THE ongoing battle of Liverpool’s Welsh Streets is to continue after the city council lodged an appeal over the government’s refusal to allow the demolition of hundreds of terraced homes.

Campaigners fought for more than 400 homes in Toxteth, all in streets with Welsh names, to be spared the bulldozer.

The only survivor’s of the council plan will be one side of Madryn Street, including the facade of Number 9, where ex-Beatle Ringo Starr was born.

A public inquiry was held last summer with the independent inspector recommending the go-ahead for the council’s demolition plan.

But last month Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, to the delight of campaigners,  refused to sanction the demolition.

Welsh Sts

Today, deadline day for any challenge, the city council announced it had appealed against the decision by Eric Pickles, but campaigners said they were weary and described the delays as "endless posturing by the powers that be".

A council spokesman explained: "There are two challenges – one against the refusal of planning permission brought under s288 of the town and Country Planning Act 1990 and is best called a 'statutory challenge'. The second is a judicial review of the refusal to confirm the CPO."

The city council contends that 70pc of local people back its £15m regeneration plan which would mean 271 ‘damp and run down’ homes demolished and replaced by 154 new houses.

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet member for Housing Councillor Ann O’Byrne said: “We are not prepared to stand by and see Eric Pickles ignore local people and his own independent planning inspector.

“The long-suffering residents of the Welsh Streets have now been waiting more than a decade for new homes and we are standing up against this unacceptable political interference from Whitehall and challenging the decision. This scheme was carefully developed and supported by the vast majority of local people in a thorough and detailed consultation.”

The scheme was approved by the council’s planning committee in August 2013 but called in for public inquiry by the Secretary of State.

Campaigners SAVE now have 19 days to respond to the points the council is raising in its challenge. 

The new battle lines are being drawn just 48 hours before the most important day in the Welsh calendar – St David’s Day.

Spokesperson for the Welsh Streets Home Group Nina Edge said: 

" We want to see at least some public money spent on sorting out the terrible mess we are left with after endless posturing from the powers that be. Eleven years ago this very week, Welsh Streets residents were promised housing and area improvements, and so far all we have seen is a trail of destruction."
She added: "Peace of mind and community relations have been destroyed, houses have been left in ruins and Liverpool's reputation has been battered. It's all cost a lot of money, and the Welsh Streets Home Group would like to see some of it spent on design and build instead of on more barristers and clerks. 
"Plus Dane are keen to tell everyone how 70pc of the local population approve of their proposal but the fact is we were only offered one option so we could only choose one option.
"But when you expand the offer to include more retained houses, community spaces and shops over 90pc of people from L8 wanted to see more existing homes retained and to see shops retained and community spaces."
She went on: "Respected architects have shown that at least another street, and half of our big trees could have been spared  with no loss in the number of  new houses on the site The dominant figures on the issue do not want that to happen so that appears to be that.
"We just want to know can expect some action to remedy our area,  when people can get out of their damp houses into new houses, and when we can see the 40 retained houses repaired.
"It seems the council are more concerned with looking like they have won than in engaging with the full breadth of interest in the neighbourhood and in the well being of the residents. We need to see some results now. "

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

Mick McManusFebruary 27th 2015.

I think that Uncle Joe and Fatty Pickeles ought to settle this one with a sumo match.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 27th 2015.

Nah first one to a BMI of 25.

Katie54February 27th 2015.

If they were so concerned about the residents, then surely they would have had the courtesy to speak to them at some point in the last few weeks. But they've been completely ignored. This is about pique. An expensive gesture, given what an appeal of this kind is likely to cost.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 27th 2015.

The Council don't do "courtesy". They only do "fait accompli". It's an expression they picked up on a jollie to Cannes.

Mary HuxhamFebruary 27th 2015.

Residents have NOT been ignored.Those of us who supported the plans have been kept informed of progress towards the Appeal. Welsh Streets Home Group do NOTspeak for residents,who are adversely affected by the 11 year delay to the proposed plans. WSHG were the cause of objections to the plans by persuading SAVE to support their opposition campaign. Those residents, this concerns, will be invited to a community meeting in the near future. It is a shame those giving their opinions can only make negative & derogatory comments.

mickeydrippinFebruary 28th 2015.

It is a shame that residents of the Welsh Streets area seem to be totally split on what they want to see happen. Some want complete demolition and new houses built, whilst others like WSHG want the derelict houses saved and renovated. Perhaps it is time for EVERY person living in that area to get together - in a locked room - in order to decide upon the best course of action for housing because without a clear majority opinion, this argument will rumble on for years.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Mary HuxhamFebruary 28th 2015.

There was a majority opinion of 83% when residents voted for the plans in 2005.The only objectors were a couple of residents of Kelvin Grove who endeavoured to get anyone, anywhere, to support their objection,so SAVE Britains Heritage jumped on the bandwagon. Hence the delay of 11 years caused by those misinforming the general public of true facts. What further annoys residents,directly affected by the delay is that, the media gives the impression that Welsh Streets Home Group represents residents of all the streets therein, whereas that group only represents Kelvin Grove,one street out of eleven covered by the plan and only 3 properties still inhabited on the side of the streets included in the plans.

Katie54February 28th 2015.

With respect, Mary, the WSHG website (www.welshstreets.co.uk… ) tells a different story. They state that an initial (2004) group of 20 residents managed to get over 200 residents across the proposed clearance site to join together to fight the redevelopment. They also say "as we reported to the Public Inspector over three hundred would be buyers, and five sizable investors made offers on all or part of the site in the past 11 years. This includes local housing co-ops, and reputable heritage re-modellers" and "only public subsidy has been seen as a means to fund renewal of the area, because ultimately and after demolition plans were to sell most of the new homes to private buyers. The refusal of the cash strapped council to sell existing houses to willing buyers, but be willing to sell replacement new houses remains a mystery". These are surely fair points, aren't they?

AnonymousFebruary 28th 2015.

Not unless you mention one of your FOI requests as a reference. Stick to the usual script girlfriend

Pete JonesMarch 3rd 2015.

It is SO clear that the residents - in fact almost everyone except for the 3 selfish hippies in SAVE and any tories with an agenda or misinformed trolls - desperately want and need the council's proposals to go through. Liverpool will always side with its own against the apathetic tories and PC brigade and rightly so! Everyone I speak to in our city is behind you Mary, so good luck with the appeal I expect it to win!

Ty BachMarch 4th 2015.

Why is it necessary to knock down the existing houses in order to provide new ones? There is plenty of what Uncle Joe likes to call "underused land" in the area. That way there will be more houses, and we are always being told that there is a housing shortage. The old houses can be either renovated by the council or housing associations, or they could offered to individuals or families prepared to do them up and then live in them.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 4th 2015.

For the same reason old cars get scrapped and other things with a finite life get replaced perhaps?

Ty BachMarch 5th 2015.

Buildings, unlike cars, can be refurbished economically, the biggest obstacle to this is the VAT the government demands on refurbishment costs whereas wasteful demolition and new-build is tax-free. This is plainly a profligate waste of energy and resources and exposes the truth about any 'green' credentials the government claims to have.

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

Ty Bach is right. It's not rocket science. Most European countries have the problem of old property in poor condition, and have incentive schemes to bring them up to scratch, including people renovating old homes for their own use paying no VAT on the materials and work done, while developers pay a reduced rate. Why don't they do something like that here?

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

Not to be specific about the Welsh streets, but old properties in general can be restored, as with old motor cars, what is required is the desire to do this. A short walk from the Welsh streets is a building called the Florence Institute, which could not have been in a more dilapidated state than it was, this has risen phoenix like from the ashes. Quite near is Steble street baths, which to quote a council employee is "past its sell by date", despite being of importance to the local community and beyond. The Town Hall has had extensive funding spent in recent times for refurbishment, yet is considerably older than the buildings quoted. So coupled with the desire it is all dependant on " Who holds the purse strings", and their perception of what is required.

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