Plans to demolish terraced homes 'a step backward'

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The Independent Online

Plans involving the bulldozing of 6,600 traditional terraced homes in Newcastle upon Tyne are provoking a wave of indignant opposition with protesters claiming that the demolitions would threaten the very soul of the city.

Plans involving the bulldozing of 6,600 traditional terraced homes in Newcastle upon Tyne are provoking a wave of indignant opposition with protesters claiming that the demolitions would threaten the very soul of the city.

Yesterday, a new study warned the city council that the proposals have "uncomfortable parallels" to the mass demolition policies of the Sixties and Seventies.

Lord Richard Rogers, who chairs the Government's urban regeneration taskforce and was engaged by the city council as a consultant on its "Going for Growth" plans, has already distanced himself from the scale of demolition involved.

The council has concluded that 20 years of piecemeal regeneration have failed and that 4,000 households - some 8,000 people - should be rehoused over the next three years to release land for development on the banks of the Tyne. The riverside communities of Scotswood and Walker, where 6,600 houses are scheduled for demolition, claim they have not been consulted. As many as 800 people have attended protest meetings.

The new report, from the University of Northumbria's sustainable cities research unit warned yesterday that mass demolition threatened "Newcastle's greatest strength ... its fiercely loyal population".Dr Keith Shaw, said the plans were out of touch with the Government's belief in the importance of community life. "Too much of [this] strategy is not radical but traditional, based on what has been done before," he said. "Property development and [the construction of] new houses and offices dominate."

The study was commissioned by the Newcastle Community Alliance, founded last month to fight the plans and funded by the trade union Unison and a local charitable trust. Lord Rogers has warned that the "flicker of life" in communities must be retained. He recently insisted his company had provided a draft plan and no specific demolition proposals.

Although the council leader, Tony Flynn, said the proposals were subject to amendment, the council says it has been told by private house builders that developing areas of land smaller than eight hectares is not commercially viable.

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