David Cameron pledges to regenerate ‘brutal’ and ‘dark’ rundown high-rise estates

Prime Minister says such estates are a ‘gift to criminals and drug dealers’

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The Independent Online

David Cameron has pledged to regenerate and improve more than 100 of the country’s most rundown estates through a new £140 million fund.

Writing in the Sunday Times, the Prime Minister said “brutal high-rise towers” had contributed to the rise of poverty, gangs and anti-social behaviour and would be torn down.

He argues housing estates, particularly those built after the war, were “entrenching poverty in Britain” and “isolating and trapping our families and communities”.

In his article, he said although the worst estates house “warm and welcoming” families, “brutal high-rise towers and dark alleyways… are a gift to criminals and drug dealers”.

Mr Cameron cited an analysis which suggested nearly three-quarters of all people involved in riots in England since 2011 came from these estates.

He said: “Decades of neglect have led to gangs and anti-social behaviour. And poverty has become entrenched, because those who could afford to move have understandably done so.

“The mission here is nothing short of social turnaround, and with massive estate regeneration, tenants protected, and land unlocked for new housing all over Britain, I believe we can tear down anything that stands in our way.”

He said some high-rise estates would be knocked down in order to “start again”, and that private homes could be built on “wasted” land currently used by “poorly laid-out estates”.

The initiative, which will be headed by Lord Heseltine, will be announced in detail in a keynote speech by Mr Cameron on Monday.

Lord Heseltine is to chair a panel which will report on how investment from bodies such as pension funds may be used, and a list of the estates most in need of regeneration will be drawn up.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, told Sky News the government had learned a lot since “badly designed” estates were built in the 1960s or 1970s.

He said: “We actually want to work with local communities to build more homes and a better future for existing tenants there.”

Labour said the initiative was still not enough, with shadow cabinet minister for housing John Healey saying the Conservatives had made too many announcements, but taken too little action.

He said: “Another week, another housing announcement. If press statements built new homes, the Government would have the housing crisis sorted.

“People simply won’t see this small-scale scheme stretched over 100 estates making much difference to the housing problems in their area.

“Any extra to help councils build new homes is welcome, but Conservative ministers have halved housing investment since 2010 and are doing too little to deal with the country’s housing pressures.”