SAVE Britain's Heritage is joining forces with local residents in east Manchester to fight plans to demolish over 400 terraced houses under the government's notorious Pathfinder initiative. In a groundbreaking collaboration, SAVE is working with an acclaimed young architect to propose ways in which the existing buildings can be revitalised and adapted to provide a variety of new housing.
Toxteth Street forms the spine of an area of modest but attractive terraced housing in the Openshaw district of east Manchester. Currently over 400 houses in the area are scheduled for demolition to make way for a new housing development. A compulsory purchase inquiry in September will decide its fate.
Local residents, supported by SAVE, are fighting the scheme. They argue that these well-built houses should be refurbished rather than demolished, and that the traditional street pattern which gives the area much of its distinctive character, should be preserved. Now, as part of a powerful case against the proposed redevelopment, SAVE has commissioned Mark Hines Architects, a young practice specialising in sustainable design and remodelling existing buildings, to produce a number of schemes for rehabilitating the existing homes. The plans offer a variety of living accommodation with private outdoor space and an invigorated streetscape.
The schemes exploit the flexibility of the existing Victorian houses by joining, extending and modifying individual units to create family homes of up to four bedrooms with their own gardens. Other ideas allow residents to choose from a number of possible 'add-ons' to their properties, each offering a different living arrangement. The outdoor spaces at the rear of the houses will be relandscaped to provide a series of private and communal secure gardens. On the street side, landscaping improvements will provide a pedestrian-friendly environment without banishing cars. The proposals exploit the embodied energy in the existing houses, and also offer other environmental benefits, combining a series of sustainability measures with high levels of energy efficiency.
Although Mark Hines's Toxteth Street proposals offers a fresh approach to rehabilitating terraced housing, other designers have already implemented successful alternatives to demolition. Last month, a refurbishment scheme by Shed KM Architects at Chimney Pot Park in Salford, was the overall winner in the Housing Design Awards.
William Palin, Secretary of SAVE, said that Mark Hines's new Toxteth Street scheme 'exposed the insanity of the demolition plans. Judged on community benefits, environmental impact and cost, rehabilitation and refurbishment is clearly the way forward. It is less destructive, helps preserve the existing community, saves money and offers revitalisation without losing the enduring qualities of these characterful and much-loved terraced streets. With good, imaginative design, these houses can be easily adapted to offer the variety of housing which the Pathfinder agencies say is required for the area.'
SAVE and Mark Hines will be showcasing the Toxteth Street plans at a special exhibition.
The exhibition will take place at The Strawberry Duck pub, 76 Crabtree Lane, Manchester M11 4GU, beside the Ashton Canal on Friday 29 August. Doors will be open from 12 - 6pm.
Printed copies of Mark Hines's report are now available from SAVE or you will soon be able to view it online by clicking the link below:
The Rebirth of Toxteth Street - Alternatives to Demolition (PDF)