REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF HOUSING, THE STRATEGIC DIRECTOR
OF RESOURCES AND CHIEF PLANNING OFFICER
TO CABINET 8th December 2003
KEY DECISION INCLUDED IN FORWARD PLAN NO: 22 –
SUBJECT AND BRIEF SUMMARY OF PROPOSALS
North Newtown lies within the Birmingham Sandwell Market Renewal Pathfinder where, as
the Pathfinder Forum has declared, “Housing is at the heart of the initiative and is its
principal driver and early decisions will be required as to the quantum of housing
By 17 December the Pathfinder must submit a Funding Prospectus to the Office of the
Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) outlining a 15 year programme to achieve the urban
transformation of the Housing Market Renewal Area and a more detailed 3 year early
action plan. The proposals contained within this report will be important both to the
delivery of that early programme and the longer term process of renewal. They form part
of a wider strategy of neighbourhood renewal and sustainable communities and in that
context the linkages and synergies between proposals for North Newtown and those
already agreed within the wider area are considered.
The report seeks approval to the clearance of 130 properties identified in the provisional
5 year forward Clearance and Disposal Programme within the Housing Investment
Strategy agreed by Cabinet on 3 March 2003 and agreement to the preparation of
planning guidance to facilitate a corporate regeneration programme. It is proposed that
work on the financial arrangements and structures required to support the process as
outlined should continue and be the subject of a further detailed report.
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1. That approval be given to the priority rehousing of affected residents and the
Director of Economic Development be instructed to negotiate the voluntary
acquisition of those properties as set out in the attached schedule of addresses
(Appendix I). In the event that voluntary acquisition(s) cannot be secured the use
(subject to the consent of the First Secretary of State) of Compulsory Purchase
Powers under Part II of the Housing Act 1985 be authorised.
2. That approval be given, subsequent to the rehousing and acquisition programme, to
the demolition of the properties in Appendix 1.
3. That the Director of Economic Development be instructed to administer the making
of statutory compensation payments to qualifying applicants arising from the
clearance proposals set out in this report.
4. That the Chief Legal Officer be authorised to negotiate, execute and complete all
5. That planning guidance is prepared in order to facilitate the regeneration of the area
covered within this report and potentially wider issues.
6. That work on the exploration of funding options, delivery mechanisms and overall
financial proposals be the subject of a further report.
7. That the Aston and Handsworth Ward Committees receive and note this report.
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1.1 Strategic Context
1.1.1 In April 2002, the Birmingham Sandwell Partnership was approved as one of nine
Market Renewal Pathfinder Projects across the Midlands and the North of
England. Within the initiative, the City Council and Sandwell MBC are working
together to develop strategies to develop new and imaginative solutions to
regenerate residential areas where low demand, inappropriate provision and lack
of choice are major factors in the (actual and potential) decline of the housing
1.1.2 The Pathfinder Forum has resolved that “a radical and aspirational strategy is
required, which protects the best of the area, changes the worst, is sensitive to
existing communities and frameworks, but recognises that flourishing
neighbourhoods are balanced neighbourhoods”. North Newtown is precisely the
sort of locality where it is intended that the Pathfinder can find solutions designed
to reverse housing market decline.
1.1.3 To secure funding the Birmingham Sandwell Pathfinder is required to submit the
draft Prospectus for the Housing Market Renewal Area to the ODPM by 17
December. This must outline a 15 year programme of interventions with a funding
profile for the delivery of the renewal strategy, together with a firm and deliverable
costed programme covering the initial 3 years. The Prospectus to be submitted,
will provide the framework for Government to measure inputs, outputs and
1.1.4 Underpinning the Prospectus will be four Area Development Plans (ADP) -
regeneration frameworks demonstrating how the Market Renewal Strategy will be
delivered at a more local and neighbourhood level including a costed programme
of interventions. The proposals for North Newtown are central to the Aston/
Newtown/Lozells ADP and have been widely consulted with stakeholders including
corporate Departments of the City Council, SRB6, NDCII Aston Pride, our
preferred Housing Association partners and resident and community groups.
1.2 North Newtown: Neighbourhood Context
1.2.1 To the north of and within a mile of the City Centre, North Newtown is a municipal
estate of 430 homes largely of Wimpey No Fines construction located at the major
Six Ways Island junction on the A34. Built between 1970 and 1972 the estate has
since seen no significant capital investment. Property types include 2 and 3 storey
houses and three multi-storey blocks. Two high rise blocks (Wiggin and
Brooks Towers) were cleared in August 2002. Also within the estate are the
Holte School and Community Leisure Centre, the Lozells Junior and Infant School
and Annie Wood House, an elderly persons home which are considered later in
1.2.2 In September 2002, the Urban Design Service (UDS) was commissioned to carry
out a feasibility study to identify options to guide investment decisions including
opportunities and constraints around refurbishment, redevelopment and possible
land use change.
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1.2.3 The existing layout of the housing in this area is poor, and lacks logic in terms of
urban design. The principle problems include, poorly designed frontages; open
access to garden areas; isolated garage and parking areas; and a labyrinth of
screened and poorly lit pedestrian ways. There is a general lack of identity or
neighbourhood feeling and a depressing environment. A combination of lack of
defensible space, high density and non traditional ,“industrial “housing of poor
quality, in terms of form and construction, have clearly played their part in the
physical decline of the area. The study and subsequent consultation exercises
revealed extremely strong local support for clearance and new development.
1.2.4 In parallel a complementary scoping report was commissioned externally to
consider ways and means in which clearance, asset value and other factors might
be harnessed as drivers to regeneration and the potential market for new
residential and other uses.
2. CLEARANCE PROPOSALS
2.1 On the 9th July 2003 the Cabinet Member for Housing agreed a first phase of
clearance within the estate including Clyde Tower and 28 No Fines houses
adjacent to an existing cleared site. This early clearance and acquisition was
enabled by funding of £552,000 secured for the Department’s Clearance budget
from the Pathfinder’s Early Action Programme.
2.1.2 Whilst the properties in question are within the provisional five year Clearance and
Disposal Programme and there is very clear resident and Member support for
redevelopment, the proposals have, nevertheless, been assessed against the
three tests of stock condition, financial viability and sustainability.
2.2. Stock Condition Assessment
2.2.1 The 130 properties identified for clearance in this report are two and three storey
town houses built in 1971 of No Fines construction. There are a number of major
component failures and modernisation is needed including rewiring, roof insulation
and pitches and window replacement, together with improvements to bathrooms
and kitchens. The gas warm air central heating systems are now 30 years old and
also require replacement. The properties fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard
and would need works estimated at £3.1m. to achieve that level.
2.2.2 Within the total number of properties identified for redevelopment are 34
owner-occupied homes. Given the linked nature of construction external
improvement works, and in particular the fitting of pitched roofs could not be
considered without the consent of individual occupiers, and their pro rata financial
contributions. Such contributions cannot be guaranteed or relied on.
2.2.3 One further property, which had originally been included in the Cabinet Member
Report of 9th July, has been included in the financial implications for the purposes
of this report. The tenant of this property completed the Right to Buy as the
approval for rehousing was agreed and thus approval to acquire this property must
now be included in this Cabinet Report.
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2.3 Financial Appraisal
2.3.1 In financial terms both demolition and disposal are viable options. In practice,
disposal is considered to be neither desirable nor achievable. (See Evaluation of
2.4.1 North Newtown exhibits many of the characteristics of a fragile and declining
housing market including;
High void levels and “churning”.
Comparatively low house prices.
Black and minority ethnic and elderly households disproportionately found
in the worst properties.
High unemployment and low household incomes.
Out-migration of aspirational second and third generation black and minority
Poor quality housing in unattractive neighbourhoods.
Comparatively high levels of crime.
Weak and declining choice based demand for particular property types.
A poor quality run down environment.
2.4.2 The three-storey town houses have, virtually since their construction, been an
unpopular house type. This is a City wide phenomenon. Inefficient internal
layouts, poor thermal values and obsolete inadequate and expensive heating
systems are all contributory factors.
2.4.3 The area has long had a poor reputation locally, due to the incidence of crime
particularly drug related crime. Alongside the statistical evidence of unpopularity
provided by high levels of turnover the area exhibits the visual symptoms
associated with deterioration and decline, such as rubbish and vandalism. It is
proving difficult to prevent the targeting of the area by drug dealers and users.
2.4.4 Residents have consistently indicated a desire for wide scale clearance of the area
as the only solution whilst the demographic information available would suggest
the need for a greater diversification of income groups to encourage a better
balanced and cohesive community. The clearance of poor quality housing and the
development of new housing offering greater choice in type and tenure could help
provide that balance.
3. DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS
3.1 Any redevelopment of North Newtown will be set within the wider strategic
framework provided by the Birmingham Sandwell Pathfinder. The Housing
Department working within that framework will continue to develop proposals both
corporately and in conjunction with partners such as Aston New Deal for
Communities (NDC), Advantage West Midlands (AWM), English Partnerships (EP)
which are coherent and comprehensive.
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3.2 Consultation and predevelopment work in North Newtown has run parallel to that
being carried out in the adjacent area of South Lozells. In September 2002 Cabinet
approved a small measure of clearance of some of the poorest quality housing and
established the “Lozells South: Carpenters Road Regeneration Area”. Work is
continuing to establish a comprehensive regeneration strategy which will identify
further areas for intervention. A further report is to be presented to Cabinet in due
3.3 Lozells South and North Newtown may both be considered as neighbourhoods
within the Six Ways Aston district, which are linked not simply by proximity, but also
by the Lozells Road local centre. Although Lozells Road provides a natural local
neighbourhood focus, it also provides the opportunity to provide the core for a wider
catchment. There are benefits to considering these areas jointly including land
readily available for development. The potential to create a stock of housing within
a wider neighbourhood would help ease land assembly through clearance.
Although potentially complex there is the potential to be very innovative in this
3.4 Six Ways Island
3.4.1 Both the UDS study and the consultant’s scoping report support the view that
North Newtown is in urgent need of major transformation. In physical terms this
translates to comprehensive redevelopment. In particular the sites of Clyde Tower
where, as noted earlier, clearance is already agreed, and that of the now
demolished Wiggin Tower are considered to offer the potential for innovative
development around Six Ways Island.
3.4.2 The Area Development Plans, and indeed the overall strategic framework for the
pathfinder identify this area as the hub of the regeneration of the A34 Corridor and
its redevelopment will feature prominently in the Prospectus.
3.4.3 A gateway development here will seek to challenge poor perceptions of this area
as well as promoting the regeneration of Lozells Road as a significant Local
Centre. Such a venture may also present a major opportunity for realising capital
for other enhancement locally.
3.5 New Housing
3.5.1 The development of new housing in this area must be seen as part of the wider
approach to regeneration but will provide for existing residents who wish to
remain, rehousing opportunities for clearance households in Lozells and the
potential to attract new householders to the district.
3.5.2 Any residential development would aim to provide high quality housing of mixed
tenure including a measure of Council provision and a variety of property types.
The integration of new homes with retained housing in the local area will be an
important issue to address as will the relationship with any new commercial
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3.5.3 A number of local residents affected by the provisional clearance proposals wish
to remain in the area. A separate report is to be considered by the Cabinet
Member for Housing, which will seek approval to a local allocations policy to
guide this arrangement.
3.5.4 Predevelopment studies suggest that an initial tranche of some150 new homes
could be provided. The exact proportions of tenure mix will need to be quantified
and qualified by further research, and would be the subject of further reports in
due course. Those properties developed for outright sale must include a broad
range of prices and offer aspirational opportunities for households who might
otherwise look elsewhere for housing progression.
3.5.5 Clearance and new residential development will not address the totality of the
physical problems in this area. It will be necessary to bring retained property up to
the Decent Homes standard and consider ways and means to effect significant
3.5.6 The scoping report recommended that consideration should be given to
incorporating an older persons' "village" providing a range of housing choice into
later phases of development. Informal market soundings indicate support for such
an approach. The proposed replacement of the Annie Wood elderly persons home
would provide the opportunity to develop this concept further (see 3.8 below).
3.6 Improvement of Neighbourhood Recreational Facilities
3.6.1 There is no great shortage of open space in North Newtown, but in the main it is
fragmented, unsupervised and unused. Leisure and Culture is keen to improve the
quality and use of open space within the area. Residents have asked that as
redevelopment proposals are worked up that the possibility of a formal
neighbourhood park be considered. If achievable this might incorporate hard and
soft landscaping, and children’s play facilities and could be linked directly to the
adjoining hard play areas at Holte School and to the floodlit synthetic grass pitch.
3.6.2 Natural surveillance from adjacent new housing would help to ensure security and
safety and create a sense of place, a special identity and add value to the
3.6.3 The UDS feasibility shows an indicative layout for the proposed Park. As the
proposals for new development are refined, the issue of the losses and gains of
Public Open space will need to be reconciled and reported back.
3.7 Annie Wood House
3.7.1 Cabinet approved an outline development for the replacement of
Annie Wood House on 27 January 2003. Following the rehousing of the existing
residents the facility will close and be declared surplus by Social Health and Care.
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3.7.2 Social Health and Care are keen that the Annie Wood House replacement be
reconstructed within the North Newtown Redevelopment. An existing cleared site
has been identified on the frontage of Clifford Street, (see proposed land use map
in Appendix IV). This area is currently held by the Education, Leisure Services
and Housing Department and has been considered as part of the overall Land
Ownership proposals for the area.
3.7.3 The release of land identified for housing purposes, to enable the replacement of
the Social Services facility, will require a replacement housing site. It is proposed
that release of the site of the existing Annie Wood House results in a disposal to
facilitate new residential development. Proposed redevelopment of the site will be
determined within the wider strategic context for housing in this area, and be the
subject of subsequent reports.
3.8 Future of Land Use
3.8.1 To ensure the best development for North Newtown the rationalisation of land
across Services has been considered, and the principle established that some
re-allocation is both inevitable and of benefit to the area as a whole the financial
consequences of which have yet to be assessed and will be the subject of a
3.8.2 It is proposed that the principles of land use as set out in the UDS feasibility study
be noted, and used to inform the planning guidance needed to facilitate
redevelopment. See Appendix III and IV
3.8.3 Further development work, will identify a schedule of net losses and gains, which
again will be the subject of further reports. It will be necessary for any loss/gain of
public open space to be formally advertised and for the land transfers to be
approved by the relevant Cabinet Members of the City Council.
3.9 Delivery of Wider Regeneration Initiative
3.9.1 The scoping study and the Pathfinder Forum agreed that further work is required
to examine the potential for maximising development opportunities in the
North Newtown and South Lozells areas.
3.9.2 Future proposals will consider the options for an innovative delivery vehicle to
achieve this objective and to this end the Pathfinder is financially supporting
consultancy work to explore such an approach. Discussions with AWM, EP and
NDC are being held to the same end. A report will be submitted to Cabinet in the
very near future.
4. MATTERS FOR DECISION
4.1 The matters for decision are set out in the recommendations at the beginning of
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5. EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
5.1 Clearance Proposals
5.1.1 The viability of the proposals within this report have been considered using a
series of tests as set out in the Cabinet Report ‘Investment Strategy to Achieve the
Government's Decent Homes Strategy’ approved on 3 March 2003.
5.1.2 A number of options were considered (detailed in Appendix II ).
a) Holding Repairs
b) Provide a 30 year life
Clearance and Redevelopment
5.1.3 Together with the work carried out by UDS, and the scoping Study, appraisal of
the options has led to the recommendation that clearance and redevelopment is
the best option to address the continuing decline of the area and ensure its long
term sustainability. The significant amount of public consultation undertaken
locally also reinforces this view.
6. CABINET MEMBER CONSULTATION
6.1 The Cabinet Members for Housing, Social Services, Education, Leisure, Sport and
Culture, Regeneration and Transportation, Street Services and Sustainability,
have been consulted prior to presentation of this report.
Councillor Muhammad Afzal has been consulted both in his capacity as
Cabinet Member for Equalities and as a Ward Member.
7. WHAT CONSULTATION (if any)HAS TAKEN PLACE
7.1 Local Members: The proposals set out in this report have been discussed with the
elected Ward Members for Handsworth and Aston Wards, and are firmly
7.2 Resident/Community: There has been significant community consultation. Arising
from the UDD report, a series of open days were held outlining the proposals for
clearance as part of a wider vision for the area. There was very positive feedback
on the preliminary proposals and strong support for further redevelopment in other
parts of the area. Responses were also formalised in questionnaires with
feedback again showing support for redevelopment from tenants and owner
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7.3 A detailed survey has been carried out with the residents of both Clyde Tower and
Alma Way. There is an overwhelming dissatisfaction with the properties and the
immediate environment. All but three respondents listed concern about the
prevalence of drugs, their use and sale in the block and the surrounding area, and
a lack of security. Residents also list poor heating, lack of double-glazing and
rubbish as reasons for wishing to leave. Infestation by rats and mice was also
noted by a number of residents. There were clear indications of a desire for a ‘root
and branch’ approach rather than marginal short term improvements.
7.4 Following the first round of consultation events a local group of residents have
established the North Newtown Neighbourhood Development Group, which is
comprised of local residents, officers of City Council departments and local Ward
Councillors. The Group have been fully involved in the development of the current
proposals and fully support them, but wish to ensure that realised asset values
deriving from disposals should, where practicable, benefit local residents.
7.5 Consultation and participation has and will continue through the Neighbourhood
Development Group, in addition to regular public meetings, and newsletters. The
proposals for North Newtown were also presented at the Lozells Neighbourhood
Day in November 2002. There continues to be firm support for redevelopment.
8. WHAT REPRESENTATIONS (IF ANY) HAVE BEEN RECEIVED E.G. IN
RESPONSE TO THE INCLUSION OF THIS DECISION IN THE FORWARD
9. LEGAL POWERS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR RESOURCES (INCLUDE
FINANCE, PEOPLE, PROPERTY AND IT CONSIDERATIONS)
9.1 The clearance proposals in this report impact upon 130 properties The total costs
incurred over the life of the scheme are estimated as follows:
Home Loss/Disturbance Payments (96 x £3,700) £355,200
Acquisition Costs (est) £2,100,000
Demolition Costs (est) £234,000
9.2 Clearance will be phased and the profile of anticipated future expenditure is as
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. Total no 2004/5 2005-6/7/8 Totals
properties £ £ £
Homeloss 96 £88,800 £266,400 £355,200
Acquisition 35 £540,000 £1,560,000 £2,100,000
costs (est.) *9 properties
Demolition 130 houses £0.00 £234,000 £234,000
costs (est.) *
*Approval to demolish the additional property for acquisition was included in Cab Member
Report 9th July 03
9.3 The estimated total cost of the proposals within this report of £2,689,200 (including
rehousing, acquisition and demolition) will be budgeted for from within the public
sector capital clearance and acquisitions budgets for 2004/5 and subsequent
years over an estimated five year period. These budgets are still to be approved
but this expenditure will be treated as a first call.
If the application to Government for Market Renewal funding is successful then
clearly there is potential for HMRA funding to add value to our capital programme
9.4 In June 2003 the Housing Department secured £975,146 in total from the early
action programme of the Birmingham Sandwell Pathfinder (HMRA), to support
clearance and site assembly in the Lozells and Newtown areas. These monies
have been committed to meet the expenditure of the first phase of clearance
(already agreed) and are to be spent by March 2004.
9.5 The additional revenue implications in the first full financial year including debt
charges, rent loss and subsidy effect will be budgeted for within the Housing
9.6 In exploring the potential to deploy City Council assets to help achieve the
regeneration of the area, there is no commitment to do so by the City Council.
The findings of this feasibility work including the potential for the development of a
Delivery vehicle to achieve the aims of the Pathfinder Prospectus will be
thoroughly detailed and the subject of a further report.
10. IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY PRIORITIES
10.1.1 Corporate Policy Priorities
10.1.2 The regeneration proposals will be developed and implemented in partnership with
the local communities and other stakeholders to allow for empowerment and
participatory decision-making. The proposals if approved will allow for the
clearance of poor quality housing with new development providing a major
improvement to the physical environment and contributing to a safer environment.
10.1.3 A significant proportion of Aston’s population is from black and ethnic minority
backgrounds. The regeneration proposals aim to improve the quality of the area
by providing better housing, community, educational, health and leisure facilities
for the benefit of all sections of the community.
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10.1.4 In terms of special needs, Council policies require that a proportion of new housing
will be developed for people with disabilities. Prior to the preparation of detailed
proposals consultation will be undertaken to identify people requiring this type of
accommodation and any specific requirements will be reflected in future design
10.1.5 The overall aim will be to bring about a sustainable development that will meet in
full the objectives of the City Councils policy toward flourishing neighbourhoods.
11. ARE THE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THIS REPORT CONSISTENT WITH ANY
APPROVED "POLICY FRAMEWORK" PLAN OR STRATEGY/OR THE
11.1 The objectives of this proposal are consistent with the Housing Strategy and the
corporate and inter local authority of achieving sustainable neighbourhoods in the
North West Birmingham Housing Market Area.
11.2 The aims of this proposal are consistent with the aims of the Birmingham Sandwell
Pathfinder and feature prominently in the Prospectus to be submitted to the ODPM
in December 2003. They are also in line with the strategic objectives of the SRB6
11.3 North Newtown is located within the South Black Country and West Birmingham
Regeneration Zone (Arc of Opportunity) and the proposals in this report are also
consistent with the aims and objectives of the Regeneration Zone delivery plan.
11.4 The regeneration proposals also reflect Cabinet and corporate priorities,
particularly that of nurturing flourishing neighbourhoods.
11.5 Funding strategies will be developed in ways that seek to maximise the generation
of external resources and in the context of the overall financial policies of the
12. REASON FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
12.1 The proposals contained within this report have been the subject of consultation
over the last 18 months. Demolition is the only viable and financially realistic
option for these properties in the policy context for the Housing Market Area.
Authorities are sought to ensure the rehousing of the existing residents, and to
progress future development proposals. It is vital that approvals are secured to
enable the overall proposals contained within the Prospectus of the Birmingham
Sandwell Pathfinder to be presented to Government
Cabinet Report: Investment Strategy to Achieve the Government's Decent Homes
Standard in the Council Housing Stock. February 2003-02-05
cabinet – public (19.09.03) page 12 of 13
North Newtown Study: Studies of Refurbishment and Redevelopment Opportunities
February 2002 and September 2002
Cabinet Report: Lozells South Carpenters Road Regeneration Proposals.
Opportunities for Growth – Strengthening Multi–Cultural Neighbourhoods based on the
A34 Corridor. David Bishop Management November 2002.
Michael Irvine – General Manager Sarah Wood – Strategic Director of Resources
Emyrs Jones – Chief Planning Officer
Contact: Julia Martin – Development and Joint Ventures
Tel: 0121 464 1328
Phillip Murphy Cabinet Member for Housing
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