High rise residents ‘should not fear demolition plans’

Syd Hall at Scholes with the flats in the background
Syd Hall at Scholes with the flats in the background

A WIGAN tenants’ rights activist has questioned a national report calling for high-rise blocks to be demolished and replaced with terraced homes.

The Policy Exchange think tank claims the move would help tackle social problems and remove so-called “no go” areas.

But Syd Hall, of Crompton House, Scholes, reckons the idea is unlikely to come good in Wigan any time soon.

He said: “Just three years ago Wigan Council spent more than £10m on major refurbishments to six of Scholes’s seven high-rise blocks.

“Unless they get full compensation one way or the other I cannot see them being willing to accept this proposal.

“I have always thought personally high rise blocks were a mistake of the ’60s.

“If my memory serves me correctly the slogan at the time was to create ‘streets in the sky’.

“Only 25 years ago these blocks were really nice to live in - it’s the tenant vetting policies which has let people down.”

According to the Policy Exchange’s Create Streets report, terraced streets and low-rise flats could achieve the same density of housing as high-rises.

It added that high-rises can also pose fire dangers and are more expensive to build and maintain.

Currently, about 140,000 households with children live on the second floor or above in England alone.

The author of the report, Nicholas Boys Smith, reckons residents of such estates - mostly social tenants - suffer more stress, mental health problems and marriage breakdowns.

He said: “It’s time we ripped down the mistakes of the past and started building proper streets where people want to live.

“We must not repeat mistakes by building housing which makes people’s lives a misery.

“Bulldozing the high-rise tower blocks and no-go zone estates and replacing them with terraced homes and low-rise flats is the best way to build both the number and the quality of homes we need.”