How demolishing tower blocks and building proper streets could improve children's lives

Real streets of low rise flats and terraced housing would improve the lives of thousands of people

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The Independent Online

The report 'Create Streets' from the think tank Policy Exchange says that there are 140,000 households in England - 100,000 of which are social tenants - with children who live on the second floor or above.

It argues that in London, the Mayor could build an additional 260,000 new and better quality homes over the next seven years by knocking down the high rise tower blocks and estates of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The think tank reports that multiple studies show terraced streets can exceed the housing densities (between 75 and 200 units/hectare) of most existing high-rise housing developments.

Nicholas Boys Smith, author of the report said: “It’s time we ripped down the mistakes of the past and started building proper streets where people want to live. We must not repeat mistakes by building housing which makes people’s lives a misery. Bulldozing the high rise tower blocks and no-go zone estates and replacing them with terraced homes and low rise flats is the best way to build both the number and the quality of homes that we need.

“We call on neighbourhoods to have the confidence of their convictions, on landowners to look to their long term returns not short term density targets and on the Mayor’s Office to take advantage of the National Planning Policy Framework to rip up their super high density targets that, perversely, are discouraging development."

Boys Smith also pointed to studies that show residents of high-rise blocks or large estates suffer from more stress, mental health difficulties, neurosis and marriage breakdowns, while children living in high rise accommodation suffer from increased hyperactivity, hostility and juvenile delinquency.

The report's findings include:

* 52,000 households with children who are social renters live on the third floor or above (40,000 in London)

* Around 90 per cent of people want to live in a house on a street

* Multi-storey housing costs more to build per square metre than other high density options