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September 26, 2005

Prescott: It Gets Worse.

You remember John Prescott’s plan to pull down the slums and build anew? Called Pathfinder? Once again the mania for central planning is showing itself to be absurd:

A street of three-storey Victorian terrace homes has become the latest battleground in John Prescott's controversial Pathfinder scheme after it was identified as the most expensive street earmarked for redevelopment. The Deputy Prime Minister's project aims to replace redundant housing with new accommodation.

Properties on Kelvin Grove, in Toxteth, Liverpool, valued at up to £145,000 each, are to be pulled down.

"Estate agents told me that lots of people were desperate to move on to the road. The whole point of Pathfinder was to stimulate the market and encourage people to live in the area, but clearly we don't need that here.

"These are proper, well-built homes. I think most people given the choice would rather live in a home with high ceilings, big bay windows and a garden than a newly designed apartment with no space."

Mr Prescott, in an interview with the ITV programme Tonight with Trevor McDonald, to be shown this evening, maintains that replacing Victorian and Edwardian housing is a progressive measure.

Asked whether these properties could be redeveloped rather than pulled down, he said: "We did all that refurbishment in the 1960s and the 70s and now they are back in an awful state.

"Can you be happy back-to-back? I've lived a lot of my life as a kid in a back-to-back but people want a bit of green space, they want environment. Some of these houses are beyond repair."

And that is the problem. The planner in the centre thinks he’s knowking down two up two down back to backs with a cobbled yard and a shared outside privy while the actual houses going are 5 bedroomed Victorians with gardens. Which is as it always will be when rigid rules are made centrally, by people who cannot (not do not, but as Hayek and Mises pointed out, cannot) have enough detailed information. Regeneration has to be done at the level of the individual property. Which means by markets, for we have no other way of gauging people’s preferences in an efficient manner.

No doubt some will say vote on it. But a vote would be of those who actually live in an area, obviously, and would not include those who might be willing to move into it, if allowed or able to do so.

Well Done John!

September 26, 2005 in Politics | Permalink


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It's also highly debateable point that "We did all that refurbishment in the 1960s and the 70s and now they are back in an awful state."

Owner occupiers tend to look after their back to backs, tenants do not. Maybe the government should sell more houses to occupiers.

Posted by: JohnM | Sep 26, 2005 9:52:04 AM

We nearly bought one of the houses earmarked for demolition on Kelvin Grove in 1999, a 3 storey property for less than £20K...

If we knew then what we know now...

There is a surfeit of 100 year old empty but often not derelict housing stock here in Liverpool, that is being demolished to make way for breeeze-block apartments with a 25 year lifespan.

I make NO claim to understand economics, but the fact developers pay VAT on rennovating and refurbishing, whilst not on new builds may have something to do with this.

But I do have a little understanding of local politics, and the Lib Dem group who run the council treat Liverpool like their own little facist state, and are prepared to listen to no one when they get an idea in their heads.

I was at the last council meeting where a representative of the 'Welsh Streets' group were petitioning the council. The Labour group were opposing the blind implementation of the governments pathfinder strategy, supporting local residents wishes, whilst the Lib Dems were staunchly behind Mr Prescotts ideas...

Posted by: blairwatch | Sep 26, 2005 4:45:00 PM

Replacing two large houses with four small ones will always be advantageous for the fuckwits - sorry - the Prescotts of this world. Leaving aside the issue that two people in a large house pay exactly the same council tax as six people in an identical house (for one third of the benefit, if they're lucky), the four new houses would generate at least twice the income of the two old ones.

Posted by: The Weasel Bearder | Sep 27, 2005 7:47:27 AM