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Sink estates could be bulldozed in David Cameron war on gang culture

Published 10/01/2016

Rochdale's Lower Falinge Estate could be one of the targeted areas
Rochdale's Lower Falinge Estate could be one of the targeted areas

Around a hundred of the UK's worst sink estates could be bulldozed to make way for better homes as part of a blitz on poverty unveiled by David Cameron.

The Prime Minister pledged that "brutal high-rise towers" and "bleak" housing will be "torn down" in an effort to tackle drug abuse and gang culture.

Making a bid for the political centre ground Tories believe has been abandoned by Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Cameron said decades of neglect of estates were behind the riots that swept Britain in 2011.

The £140 million redevelopment programme is to be overseen by Lord Heseltine, who helped to transform the Liverpool and London docks in the 1980s.

His estate regeneration advisory panel has been told to produce a full blueprint by the time of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

Details of the scheme will be set out in a keynote speech being delivered by the premier on Monday, in which he is also due to outline plans to double government funding for relation¬ship counselling for troubled families and relaunch a coalition proposal to issue vouchers for parenting classes.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Cameron said: "Within these so-called sink estates, behind front doors, families build warm and welcoming homes.

"But step outside in the worst estates and you're confronted by concrete slabs dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers and dark alleyways that are a gift to criminals and drug dealers.

"Decades of neglect have led to gangs and antisocial behaviour. Poverty has become entrenched, because those who could afford to move have understandably done so."

Promising to transform the worst estates, Mr Cameron added: "For some, this will simply mean knocking them down and starting again. For others, it might mean changes to layout, upgrading facilities and improving local road and transport links."

The Government will inject £140m to rehouse occupants and tear up planning rules to speed up the process.

Tenants and homeowners will be given "binding guarantees" that their right to a home is protected.

Mr Cameron said three out of four rioters in 2011 came from sink estates.

"The riots of 2011 didn't emerge from within terraced streets or low-rise apartment buildings. The rioters came overwhelmingly from these postwar estates. That's not a coincidence," he wrote.

The housing developments being targeted reportedly include the Winstanley estate in Wandsworth, south London.

Others could include the Lower Falinge estate in Rochdale, Greater Manchester and Broadwater Farm in Tottenham, north London.

Shadow housing minister John Healey said: "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.

"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."

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