Social Implications of Current Inner-City Brownfield Strategy
To encourage greater new residential construction and ease the present housing crisis, the government has sought to make it easier for construction companies to build on brownfield land. Residential construction has consistently failed to meet demand. Brownfield land is land previously employed for industrial or commercial applications.
Values for such land are usually far lower than for clean greenfield land, making it an attractive proposition for residential developers. However, brownfield land is often contaminated with industrial pollution and hazardous waste from its former use, which must be cleaned up by land remediation services before the land can be built on.
‘Sink Estates’ and Property Development
Central government has even reportedly set its sights on so-called ‘sink estates’. The authorities claim that such housing estates only entrench poverty by bringing together an array of social problems, such as addiction, mental health problems and poor parenting, which prevent residents from achieving their full potential in life.
The majority of such estates were built after the Second World War in the typical Brutalist concrete style. The government has explicitly stated their desire to demolish such local authority-administered housing estates, to be replaced by new flats for the private market. The benefit of using this land is that the services of companies such as Ash remediation management wouldn’t be required, as they would on other brownfield sites.
Experts and residents alike would be hard-pressed to disagree with the idea that many estates across the country have been left to decay and have become rife with social problems. The question being asked by many, however, is whether demolishing such estates is the answer to remedying these problems.
Knock It All Down?
Demolishing entire streets or blocks of flats produces social dislocation for the residents, who are scattered across the city and have to reintegrate into the community. Back in the 1970s, a similar program of demolishing post-war homes initially intended to be temporary was carried out, splitting up communities and re-homing them in new council estates.
The difference, however, was that these new houses were built to a very high standard. Today, examples like Trellick Tower are very popular with young urban professionals due to their quality. Can the same be guaranteed of housing built today, where developers may seek to cut corners to maximise profits?