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Welsh streets plan goes to public inquiry

Area's historic implications cited by Pickles who is branded a 'Tory hypocrite'

Written by . Published on September 25th 2013.


Welsh streets plan goes to public inquiry

MAYOR of Liverpool Joe Anderson took to Twitter yesterday to express his fury after it was announced that there is to be a public inquiry into the Welsh Streets regeneration scheme.  

The go-ahead for the £15 million plan was given in July, but the plans were frozen just hours later by Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, to give him time to consider whether a public inquiry was needed.

Yesterday he decided it was.

The Govenment had said all along that it wanted planning applications to be decided by local councils, but Pickles qualified the decision, saying it "considers in this instance that the proposal may conflict with national policy and has greater than local importance".

The planThe plan

Housing association Plus Dane, which is managing the project, said any delays could jeopardise its funding  - half of it coming from the same Government - as to qualify building must be completed by March 2015.

Mayor Anderson branded the decision malicious and hypocritical.

"Tory hypocrites spout localism+ then ignore community voices. Calling in the Welsh Streets plan is political malice. #shameful" he tweeted.

Later, a much longer statement was issued from the Mayor's Office in which Anderson said: “I am personally fed up with government interference like this, which has now delayed local people having the good quality homes they deserve. All this community wants is certainty and the government has slapped them in the face with this decision.

Ringo

"I am absolutely incensed that Mr Pickles, who supposedly champions localism, has ignored the overwhelming views of local people, and called this in, particularly when his own department has allocated funds towards the project.” 

The City Council’s planning committee on 23 July had approved plans for a  regeneration scheme which would have seen 150 new high-quality homes built, the refurbishment of 37 terraced properties and the demolition of 280 homes. The frontage of Ringo Starr's birthplace in Madryn Street will remain.

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Mayor Anderson said: “These proposals were drawn up after extensive consultation with residents. It is residents that have been badly let down by this decision."

Planning Minister Nick Boles said: "The government is committed to giving power to councils and communities to decide their own planning decisions and only calls-in cases very rarely.

"Each case is always carefully considered on its own facts.

"The Welsh Streets application has attracted national controversy and has broader implications for the historic environment. It involves issues of more than local importance."

Pickles said arrangements for the public inquiry "will be made shortly" and details advertised locally nearer the time.

Anderson urged: “We’ve been forced into this and so it must take place as quickly as possible. The uncertainty that this community have faced for far too long shouldn’t  be prolonged for a moment longer than it needs to be."

The case for keeping

Dingle supporters of the Plus Dane plan say their lives have been blighted for 13 years, forcing them to live in a rat invested environment in damp and squalid homes, but heritage campaigners believe there is a middle way.

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Jonathan Brown told Confidential in July: “We are not opposing people having new homes if that is what they want, but there is scope here to save far more houses. As things stand fewer than 10 percent of the houses in the Welsh Street area will be refurbished and the rest cleared. It has already cost at least £20m just to buy and board up these houses. This has been a policy of managed decline.”

Clementine Cecil, of Save Britain’s Heritage, added at the time: “It has been demonstrated around the country that if there is a will, old houses are capable of being restored and re-used,” she said. “It could happen her in the Welsh streets... If every one of the houses in Welsh streets were restored there would be more than enough people eager to move in.”

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

Judith PattersonSeptember 26th 2013.

get the conservation team envolved and get the houses habitable.Dont just want the façade of Ringo starrs home, but the whole lot.

Michael BreslinSeptember 26th 2013.

Let Save Britain's Heritage buy all the derelict houses for £1.00 each and make them habitable again. They can then sell or rent them to those people who support their views and who are desperate to live in early 20th century "two-up-two-down" homes. New houses can be built nearby for the local people who apparently want something better.

Mary HuxhamSeptember 29th 2013.

SAVE & Welsh Streets Home Group together with Jonathan Brown and other objectors to the plans can all take the blame for the 10 years of delay and their interference, causing misery in other peoples' lives.They all arrogantly believe they know what is best for residents of this neighbourhood. Residents here are sick of all the hype about Madryn Street and being told people want to come & live here, to buy & refurbish these "lovely old terraces". Which was the reason for retaining some of Madryn & Kelvin Grove. Those of us who actually live here have no interest in "Ringo" or his past home but are annoyed that, because of an idiotic idolisation, dilapidated houses are to be left standing amongst brand new homes, as no buyers for said properties have come forward so far. As for PIckles reasons for Call -in, there is no heritage value in the terraces and as the site has been built on previously, new properties will not impact on wider heritage areas. Mary Huxham MBE

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2013.

We cant keep all our old buildings some do have to go sometimes which is only a problem when their replacements turn out to be identikit red lego houses like on just about every new estate. we laugh at those 60's tower blocks but in 40 years everyone is going to think we were nuts for the residential schemes we put up now

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