Monday, 4 April 2011

A Quick Rant

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The wrong kind of people

READING this left me simmering with anger.

Here's the story in the local newspaper of my old home town, the Telegraph & Argus, about plans to regenerate a so-called slum estate.

I used to work in an office block literally on the corner of the estate. A good friend of mine lived there. It wasn't a ghetto or a slum, but a quiet estate with a lot of elderly residents.

It isn't a ghetto or a slum now -- nobody is living there so it can't be either. It was boarded up and left derelict. There is a difference.

The estate was deliberately run down by a council, and then a social housing landlord, who had -- and evidently still have -- great regeneration visions for this prime (therefore lucrative) city centre site. To put it bluntly, the buildings and the people who lived in them were in the way.

That's what makes my blood boil. People with good jobs, paying good salaries, owning their own homes, decided the low income people who lived on this estate didn't match up to the vision of an 'affluent, trendy and youthful middle class utopia', so they had to go.

Oh, the people making the decisions and drawing up the plans wouldn't put it in those terms, not even to themselves, and I am sure they sincerely believed that what they did in dispersing this community was for its own good.

But funnilly enough, I read the bit of the masterplan from a few years back that related to this site. The plan was to build so-called 'live/work' units for young artists. Essentially studio flats, if you want to be polite, bedsits, if frank, for affluent self-styled bohemians. The document, a contribution by the social landlord that took over the estate from the council, declared that the scheme was intended to kickstart the private sector redevelopment of the area.

The community has been dispersed, but the pseudo-bohemian yuppification never happened (at least not yet). This is Bradford of course, the city that has left the elegant Odeon building to rot so they can pull it down and build a generic mixed-used development (as the jargon goes), and created the masterstroke Westfield scheme -- a wasteland of rubble for five years until they quickly landscaped it to create a half-hearted 'urban garden' because the scheme was permanently stalled. And don't get me started on that glorified pond they call the city park...


Category: COMMENT


And you can bet that somebody made money on the whole thing ... probably public money too.


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