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Think tank urges demolition of Britain’s high-rise estates

January 24 2013

Think tank urges demolition of Britain’s high-rise estates
The Policy Exchange, a Conservative think-tank, has published a manifesto calling for the demolition of Britain’s high-rise housing stock in a bid to solve an increasingly severe housing shortage.

The organisation reasons that ‘crumbling’ multi-storey housing is grossly inefficient in its use of land, choking off development opportunities within inner cities for the supply of lower rise, higher density replacements.

Citing London as a test case the body concludes that there currently around 360,000 high rise dwellings built in the period 1951-81 at a density of 75 dwellings a hectare. If these were rebuilt at a density of 100 units hectare that would allow construction of an additional 119,880 homes – rising to 406,800 at a density of 160 units per hectare.

The report notes: “The existing planning system has led to major cities building super high density and high-rise, box sized flats, the smallest in Europe and smaller than ever before in the UK. Between 2003 and 2007, there was a seven fold increase in high rise building even though social housing tower blocks are extremely expensive to build and maintain.

“There is wealth of evidence that multi-storey living leads to higher crime rates, weaker communities, and poorer health and education outcomes for residents.”

Dundee is currently on target to demolish its entire stock of high rise housing within the next decade but Glasgow has been leading the way by sheer volume levelling dozens in recent years as part of ongoing regeneration work.

Demolition Timeline:
June 2012, Petershill Drive, Glasgow
May 2012, Ibrox Court, Glasgow
November 2011, Glencairn Tower, Motherwell
September 2011, North Sighthill, Edinburgh
August 2011, Maxwelltown, Dundee
May 2011, Coll Place, Glasgow
Feb 2011, Octavia Court, Greenock
Oct 2010, Norfolk Court, Glasgow
May 2010, Broomloan Court, Glasgow


#1 Posted by wonky on 24 Jan 2013 at 18:15 PM
"Conservative think-tank" that can't be right, Shirley? Oxymoronic. So they concluded they had to demolish high risers for "lower rise, higher density replacements". How much do these chumps get paid? Geez a joab.
So they are going to knock to high-density towers and replace them with low rise "high density" buildings...low rise/high density? I don't get this. Oxymoronic. High density Towers are an inefficient waste of Manhattan has it all wrong then...I see now! Maths was always my weak point. And lastly they cite London as a test case. Ominous echoes of past privileges, and the endless victualling of material benefits to the seat of Power- with the capital as main priority as always, meaning: we are going to bulldoze whole swathes of crap 60's housing and replace them with shiny new identikit buildings all over London with tax builders f*** the rest of you North of the Watford Gap.
But none of this has anything to do with us needing a radical reform of archaic feudal laws on land ownership that have changed little since the Norman Conquest, nothing at all. Nor has it anything to do with the fact that London and the South-East are vastly over-populated (exacerbated by immigrants inevitably drawn there) for an area with such a relative paucity of natural resources...not that I don't agree with much of the conclusions, but it all seems like a prelude to South-East/London house building led regeneration at the expense of everywhere when the Tory's told us the high speed trains might never get passed Leeds ( if they ever get that far).
kevin toner
#2 Posted by kevin toner on 25 Jan 2013 at 02:20 AM
If every tower and/or apartment block built in Glasgow was ever to be demolished, would this match the number of tenement dwellings built/lost in the last 1.5 centuries?

Scotland’s central belt has been a veritable urban lab experiment for this timeline; let’s reap the results from its findings!

By what ratios have built tenements outnumbered apartment block/tower flats in Glasgow or vice versa, demolished and otherwise?

Now there's a question that could be worth funding. The CTBUH are offering a team $20k for such explorations, get in there and seize the moment.

For good measure: distinguish between new and old tenements and compare the ratio to built houses, rarely if not ever demolished; and of course not forgetting the makeshift new towns housing in the equation, including the displacement of Glaswegians to locales as far afield as Fife! Also acknowledging certain vast tenement grid extensions anticipated prior to the inter-war period prior to the Glasgow boundary expanding...

Good luck, an easy $20k!
#3 Posted by Wonky on 26 Jan 2013 at 10:16 AM
In relation to the needs of Glasgow and its demolition of its various tower blocks, the reinvention of the tenement within a modern context, most notably demonstrated at Anderston, and with more flourish at Govan, leads the way in new high-density high-aesthetic design-planning. Admittedly there is not the high quality sandstone material of earlier examples but quality innovative design practice can act as a sufficient compensation for such a short-coming- lets just hope we can lead the way by bringing the tenement into the 21st C. For Glasgow there will have to compromises along the way- having to attract young families with low density, back & front door constructions- strategically placed amongst projects of greater density. The need for balance, variety and flexibility within the built fabric is probably than in a high-demand-we'll-accept-anything urban environment like London.

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