Monday, 27 February 2012

HMR - A summary of the programme

Hyndburn (and East Lancashire) has an oversupply of housing. It also has an undersupply of desirable housing exacerbating the problem further. That is what is generating empty homes. It cannot be reversed because it is linked to the economy. There are only two options. Demolition or remodelling with a reduction in numbers and increase in size. The latter is the preferred option and, in May, Labour scrapped Tory demolition proposals.

Pepper potting schemes do not work. These are expensive to refurbish and even more expensive to insulate homes. Demolition is required because there is no open space and these neighbourhoods have chronic health and recreation issues.

HMR pandered to the private sector. It sought developer friendly sites of scale. Large land assembly. This was wrong in some cases. Hyndburn pursued this idea. HMR also failed to leverage in householder equity. It was a giveaway with no long term sustainable plan. So not only is there criticism of demolition, there are deeper worries about refurbishment.

On balance, demolition was the greatest success of HMR because it did provide a long term solution whereas all refurbishment schemes, then and now, fail to answer the longevity question; fail to answer the neighbourhood questions and fail to produce a cost effective solution.

Hyndburn Council’s approach included many of these mistakes. Nonetheless, cost effective demolition was balancing the housing market in a sustainable way.