Projects: Building Awards 2018 Refurbishment winner - Welsh Streets

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Welsh Streets is a radical build-to-rent scheme that encourages community and provides a blueprint for developers all around the country to copy.

The Housing Market Renewal Initiative may not be one of the more memorable examples of Blairite domestic policy but it remains one of the most controversial. Between 2002 and 2011, what was more commonly known as the Pathfinder programme resulted in the demolition of nearly 20,000 homes in the Midlands and northern England at a public cost of almost £2bn. 

The idea was to “renew failing housing markets” in selected deprived areas by demolishing substandard accommodation and replacing it with modern housing that would boost local property values, stimulate economic investment and drive urban regeneration. 

The reality all too often became a bizarre dystopian stalemate of half-demolished neighbourhoods severed by a Kafkaesque government policy where homes were essentially being destroyed because they were too cheap. Even worse, we can now tell, albeit with hindsight, that prevailing economic trends over the last decade probably would have seen house prices rise even in deprived areas thereby propelling the kind of market-driven regeneration the government was seeking but with significantly lower recourse to the public purse. 

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