Login | Register

Inquiry into Welsh streets regeneration begins

Words: Sam Waddicor

Residents supporting a £15m regeneration of Liverpool’s Welsh streets have protested outside the start of a public inquiry into the proposed scheme.

Plans for the area would see 280 homes demolished, with 37 more being refurbished and 150 new houses built. However, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) ordered a hearing into the plans after deciding they may be in conflict with national policy.

The three-week inquiry will hear from residents, the housing association Plus Dane (previously CDS), the city council and the charity Save Britain’s Heritage (SBH). There will also be a site visit to evaluate whether the plans fit in with government policy.

Assistant mayor and cabinet member for housing, Ann O’Byrne, said: “Our plans were supported by more than 70 per cent of local people following a thorough and detailed consultation, so we will be making a strong and powerful case on their behalf at the inquiry. The residents of the Welsh Streets have waited far too long for regeneration. They have shown real determination, resilience and fantastic community spirit to fight for a future where boarded-up, derelict properties are replaced by modern, family homes.”

The area got its name as the homes were built and lived in by Welsh workers in the 19th century and the streets are all named after Welsh towns, villages and valleys. The debate about the Welsh Streets dates back to 2004 when the houses were first sealed up in preparation of their inclusion in New Labour’s Housing Market Renewal Pathfinders programme. Whilst the majority of these homes are owned by Plus Dane, around 30 per cent are resident owned. Therefore, the continuing planning delay on what to do with the houses, that have been boarded up since 2004, is denying people access to their homes.

Nina Edge, a spokesperson for the Welsh Street Home Group (WSHG), said: “Every empty home in the Welsh Streets is an empty dream. It’s a blank space where someone either wanted to stay, or repair, or leave and demolish for redevelopment. In ten long years not one of these dreams has been fulfilled and the space is frozen by the inability of the stakeholders to respect each others wishes. The Welsh Streets have become a vale of tears.”