The City of Birmingham has a great time-honoured tradition of replacing substandard housing with soon-to-become substandard housing – see the results of inner-City slum clearance around Aston, Newtown and Nechells for prime examples – and where once we had great swathes of the City cleansed of their private hovels to be replaced by the wonders of municipal housing, the reverse process is now at full force with Council housing stock being swept away to make way for largely ‘social housing’ (Housing Associations in old money) and the buzzword of urban regeneration – ‘mixed use’ developments.
Farclose House seen above in October 2006 on the corner of Springbank Road and Cambridge Crescent awaiting ‘dynamite demolition’ was built in 1967 as part of the Woodview Estate in Edgbaston – a 13 floor high-rise, symbolic of not only 1960s Birmingham but of the inadequacies of housing construction and planning myopia in the late 1950s and 1960s.
The Woodview Estate has now largely been levelled as part of the sprawling Attwood Green redevelopment project that has encompassed the Lee Bank, Benmore and Woodview estates and – in the main – levelled them. The estates themselves were sprawling Council developments comprising mixed storey developments from high-rise tower blocks to maisonettes, houses and bungalows.
The estates grew-up in the 1960s hemmed in by the previously – and to some extent still – affluent residential Edgbaston, the industrial outcrop around Broad Street and the A38. The realisation that they had, by the 1970s, deteriorated into high-crime ‘slum’ areas finally led to the realisation that drastic action was required and the £100+ million Attwood Green project begun. The usual beneficiaries of Council estate redevelopment – Mercian Housing – are joined by Optima Community Association and Crest Nicholson in the project which aims to create over 900 homes and shops etc etc . . .
Whether the new estate will stand the tests of time – or deteriorate as quickly as the previous ones – remains to be seen!