Tuesday, 2 October 2012

'A paradise, what an idea!'

Spent a stimulating evening with the 'Failed Architecture' people yesterday (see my previous post), who have been busy talking to the current residents of the Willoughby Street flats in Lenton, Nottingham (the original site plan of which is above - I like the 'Sitting Out Area'). 

FA seem to be quickly finding out that the built legacies of the welfare state are thankfully not quite as easy to dismiss as the cityfathers would like - or should I say 'Nottingham City Homes', a 'not-for-profit' (according to their website) organisation tasked with 'managing the city's 29,000 council homes'. Soon, if NCH get their way, they'll be managing 28,520 council homes once they've demolished these flats. In a curious bit of doublespeak, NCH say "Because we want our homes to stand for a long time, we are starting a process of demolishing more than 900 properties over the next five years". This does seem like a particularly odd way of managing people's homes, especially after they do not seem to have any firm plan whatsoever to completely rehouse the residents of the Lenton flats, or to even rebuild new 'social' housing on the site (apart from some sheltered accommodation that might offer alternative homes for the residents of just one of the five blocks). Hmm, could be a nice site for a private developer to build some new student homes - perhaps the development could be called 'Aspire' or something obliquely meaningless like that. NCH are not-for-profit, but it is the City Council that still own these homes and, presumably, the site ...

Worse still, the residents of the Lenton flats will not be immediately rehoused - they will have to 'bid' for a new home, like everyone else in this sad, sorry, undemocratic and unfair society we have today. On Friday 5 October, Failed Architecture will be holding a final debate with local inhabitants (hopefully), students and experts, when the project will also present their findings, and a timeline of the history and experiences of the Lenton flats and their residents - in a year's time, that might be all that remains of this little, local, example of a future that was never quite allowed to come off.