Pickles Deals Huge Blow to Welsh Streets Demolition Plans

The Secretary of State has ruled that controversial plans to demolish nearly 200 homes as part of a Pathfinder clearance project in the Welsh Streets area of Liverpool should be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The council will now be required to submit a new, full, planning application for demolition. Permitted development rights - which the council was using to fast-track demolition - have been suspended and the controversial plans will now be subject to the full scrutiny of the EIA process. Most importantly, the council will now be required to properly examine alternatives to demolition, including renovation and refurbishment, something that it has so far refused to do.

The houses in the Welsh Streets area of Liverpool were built by, and for, Welsh artisan immigrants in the 19th century. One of the houses condemned under the council’s plans is 9 Madryn Street, the birthplace and childhood home (until he was 3 years old) of Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr.

The decision, which follows SAVE’s recent Court of Appeal victory on demolition and EIA, has huge implications for mass house clearance projects planned under the now defunct Housing Market Renewal (Pathfinder) programme. With permitted development rights suspended under EIA, it will be possible for local people and other objectors to scrutinise plans and to challenge the principle of demolition, rather than simply the method of demolition.

William Palin, Secretary of SAVE says: ‘This is a massively important decision which could spell the end of fast-tracked mass demolitions. At last, Liverpool Council’s draconian approach to flattening neighbourhoods without full planning scrutiny, has been challenged. This will finally force the council to look at alternatives to demolition and we hope that this will open the way for individuals, housing co-ops and developers to take on and renovate these houses and reverse years of council-sponsored decline.’

This is another triumph for our superb legal team - Susan Ring of Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law and our Barrister, Richard Harwood of Thirty Nine Essex Street.'

Planning specialist and Pathfinder resident Jonathan Brown of Merseyside Civic Society says: ‘It has been obscene to see authorities acquire, evict, devalue and demolish thousands of Victorian terraced houses without even submitting a full planning application, simply so the land they stand on can be handed to development driven quangos for private profit.

For the sake of over twenty thousand people on Liverpool's waiting list, and millions more in acute housing need across Britain, we must hope this drives away the long shadow cast by the great housing market renewal scandal, and will lead to the renovation of thousands of good, solid Victorian terraces written-off by Pathfinder as obsolete.'

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