Urban Scrawl Issue 2

Page 1

urban scrawl Issue 2 ISBN: 978-0-9525791-2-0

Hulme: What Happened Next

Editorial In many respects Hulme is URBED’s spiritual home and is the subject of Urban Scrawl Issue 2. It is an area that has been cleared and rebuilt twice in the space of thirty years, a dubious distinction. It is or has been home to many of URBED’s staff and for five years was where our office was based. Laid out in 1890, forcefully modified amidst a riot in 1933, the second major remodelling of the area occurred in the 1970s and involved demolition of the area’s terraced grid and replacement with 13 tower blocks and 6 system-built deck-access estates, the centrepiece of which was the Crescents, designed like Bath terraces on steroids. The population dropped to nearly ten percent of its pre-regeneration levels and complaints about conditions in the new developments soon mounted. As families moved out, a myriad of others moved in and Hulme was lit up with the creative energy of its new residents. It became a hub for Manchester’s alternative culture and while this new community didn’t want it demolished the area’s ongoing problems and the fact that precious few of them paid any rent persuaded the council that it had to go. So in the 1990s another programme of regeneration was embarked upon, determined ‘that the mistakes which were made a generation ago were not repeated’. The new Hulme (technically the new new Hulme) was promised as a place of self-policing developments by design, safe, integrated, neighbourly streets and an area that encouraged self-sustaining patterns of life for generations to come. Members of URBED were part of this second wave as tenant activists, residents and planners. Many of the ideas and principles that underpinned the redevelopment were suggested, championed and challenged by people still working for us to this day (it is also worth noting that many ideas were also ignored). For Urban Scrawl 2 we revisit Hulme as a practice to ask what the area looks like ten years on: are we glad the second wave happened, what do others involved in the regeneration think of the area now, what lessons can be learnt in future and, perhaps most importantly, did Hulme become what it set out to be? Warts and all, in agreement and conflict, this is our assessment of Hulme…

– ISSUE 02



4 - 9

16 – 17

Hulme In Hindsight

Historic Development

Sarah Jarvis interviews key people in the

A plotted history of the area through each

regeneration of Hulme to evaluate the

major development epoch.

lessons we can all learn from the process of neighbourhood renewal.


18 – 21 The World’s Longest Mistake Sergio Porta tells Italy’s deck access story.

22 – 24

11 – 13

Housing And Hulme - A Personal Perspective

The Fields Of Hulme

Debbie Fuller talks through her experience of

Helene Rudlin takes a walk through Hulme’s

living in the ‘regenerated’ Hulme.

ongoing green activism.

Photographs: Charlie Baker: Front cover, p.4,5,6,7,8,14,23,

Helene Rudlin: p.9,12 Pia Ceschel: p.13 Debbie Fuller: p.22

URBED Fifth Floor 10 Little Lever Street Manchester, M1 1HR

t. 0161 200 5500 email: scrawl@urbed.coop web: www.urbed.coop

25 - 27

14 - 15

Moving Swiftly On

New Homes For Little Change

Charlie Baker offers a critique of the

Paul Bower documents his attempts to

new Hulme in this commentary to his

break into social housing in Hulme and



Baker, David Rudlin

urbanism environment design


offers a future model for ethical, mixed-use

Sarah Jarvis, Andy Kelham, John Sampson, Charlie

24,25,26,27 Jamie Anderson: p.2/3,10

Hulme in Stats The changing picture of Hulme in facts and

Editoral Team:

Printed by BROWNS CTP Ltd, Unit B, Colbalt Way, Foxdenton Lane, Middleton, Manchester M24 1NN

Urban Scrawl is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable oil based inks.

Back image: Newcastle Rd 1905 Manchester City Council Image Library


Hulme in hindsight looking back AT the lessons learned A large cast of people influenced the regeneration of Hulme. For our major interview in this edition of Urban Scrawl we have asked a variety of the actors who were working and living there 15 years ago to reflect on their experiences of that time. Speaking to David Lunts, George Mills, Lesley Chalmers, Peter Marcus, and John Robb, Sarah Jarvis draws out some of the lessons that Hulme can still teach us today.

David Lunts Now Executive Director of Policy and Partnerships at the Greater London Authority, David Lunts was Chair of Manchester City Council’s Housing Committee from 1988 to 1995. In between, his roles have included heading the Urban Villages Forum, Chief Executive of the Prince’s Foundation, and Director of Urban Policy at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Visions are all very well, but ordinariness

David Lunts

George Mills

Lesley Chalmers

Peter Marcus

John Robb

can be a good quality The Community Planning Weekend was intended to set out a vision for Hulme – with all sorts of pontificating and pretentiousness. Maureen Moonsamy, one of the residents said, “I want Hulme to be an ordinary place. It used to be one of those places where people knew their neighbours and everyone felt comfortable”. This was a very powerful thing to hold onto. She was also very vocal about the more middle class activists – “too many Epidemics”, as she called them. Hulme was full of these architecture students and tenant activists, who started from the premise that we’ve got to save our homes, but actually became increasingly intrigued by the possibilities of designing a new urban quarter in Manchester.

– ISSUE 02

Keep up the pace of change

technique. Crown St did achieve this, as it

A clear corporate view is needed to get

Three or four more years of focus would

was more self-conscious about the traditional

things done

have helped: the pace of development and

Glasgow tenement. Hulme got a squeezed-

Graham Stringer was the Leader of the council

quality of development would have been

down Brookside. Ten years later Urban

and had very clear views. He was a very

better, especially the quality of the buildings

Splash would have done a very different job,

powerful leader and could certainly reorganise

and the attention to detail. Debates around

but we were stuck with Bellway and Miller

the architecture of the council, which we did.

urbanism fell into two areas – loose fit design

Homes. This was six or seven years before

So the idea of taking Hulme forward as a joint

code versus a more rigid code. Perhaps the

the Urban Task Force, so developers like

venture with AMEC and various other players

codes should have been more prescriptive.

Bellway etc have been on a journey too.

and then having an arms length delivery

There are no memorable buildings from City

Also, the Birley Fields office fiasco was a

vehicle, Hulme Regeneration, based on the

Challenge, except Homes for Change, but

rather conceited idea that there would be

estate, and setting up a new sub-committee

that is the most introverted and non-urban

some sort of massive new corporate office

of the council that was able to make all the

– it doesn’t address the street.

corridor of speculative offices - I gather that

decisions about planning and other things

those offices are still unlet 10 years on, on a

was all very important to us and helped the

huge central site, but getting an office market

project along. It enabled decisions to be made

Placemaking needs to be taken seriously

to work in a location like Hulme was always

quickly, so it did a tremendous amount to set

Hammarby Sjöstad in Sweden is a good

going to be very difficult.

Manchester on course for doing other big

example. It is still all flats but built to one code with a limited palette of materials and high density. Here there is nothing close to it. There are a few ‘nice’ developments but they don’t make a neighbourhood. We need to keep a sense of the domestic but still be high density. So the biggest criticism from the design perspective is that it didn’t work. We still need a domestic vernacular. Hulme is too full of many little bits and pieces where each architect or developer has tried to do something – like red or blue window frames – but the best have a sense of order and ordinariness beneath them which is a good

Certainly it was a fascinating time because although David Rudlin and Charlie Baker had probably read Jane Jacobs, quite a lot of us in those days hadn’t

projects like the City Centre after the IRA bomb. Hulme showed the value of a clear corporate view. Just as London over the last seven or eight years has benefited from the Mayor getting a grip, there are a host of examples where things are not happening because of an absence of a clear corporate view.


George Mills A partner in MBLA architects in Manchester, George has been involved in the redevelopment of Hulme since the 1980s with schemes including the cooperative development Homes for Change and the Life Buildings, still on site in Hulme. Keep your foot on the gas

been relatively neglected, with only two or

was the real thing. But it was more important

Manchester City Council is good at getting

three developers staying, and no interest from

to get people living in Hulme again. ASDA is

initiatives going – and the regeneration of


cosmopolitan and bustling: you can’t say ‘it’s

Hulme aimed to bring improved social housing but also, importantly, private investment to the area. The £37.5m of City Challenge was seed money, intended to put Hulme back on the map. Up to 1997 it achieved that – at one stage eight or nine different private developers were working in Hulme, which was amazing

Homes for Change was groundbreaking – radical both in its design but also its procurement, and everyone who worked on it was very proud of it

as a few years’ earlier no one would have

Consultation can be frustrating but getting

Hulme’ or wherever, and that is a fantastic

touched it. But then the impetus went as the

people in can be more important

virtue – there is a good mix of people and

City Council officers’ focus moved east, to

The public consultation produced a quite

ages and at that level it’s worked.

Ancoats, the Northern Quarter and North East

conservative architecture. In particular the

Manchester. The very political muscle that had

mostly white, working class population living

Hype is sometimes necessary

made Hulme work in the first place – Richard

in the northern end were overly-influenced by

Compared with twelve or thirteen years ago

Leese, Eamon Boylan, Howard Bernstein, etc

what they were watching on their televisions –

Hulme is completely changed. We didn’t

– was now required to look at other failing

they wanted a Brookside type of architecture,

really believe Manchester was the new

areas of the city and as their attention moved

it was very influential. This media-driven

Barcelona, but the hype was necessary. Now

it left a vacuum in Hulme. Areas like Miles

consultation process was very frustrating,

there is a good mix of people there – but

Platting were also in danger of becoming no

and not radical enough. Housing Associations

one problem might be that the housing we

go areas and Manchester City Council could

were conservative and still are, so tenants

are building does not have enough built-in

only do so much. The pace of change slowed

and Housing Associations resisted anything

flexibility to accommodate different family

down. The City Centre took off as a place

radical. It was tough. I think there is still

groups and lifestyles over time.

to live, but sites in Hulme were not brought

something distinctive about the architecture,

forward at the same rate and developers

though it could have been more cutting-

moved their attentions to the city. Hulme has

edge. In comparison, Homes for Change

– ISSUE 02

Lesley Chalmers Now Chief Executive of the English Cities Fund, Lesley Whitehouse as she then was headed Hulme Regeneration from 1992 to 1995. After Hulme she worked as Chief Executive of the King’s Cross Partnership. You need to have passion to get up and go

organised by Dogs of Heaven, featuring baths

. Not everything went right of course – the

to work

piled up in a pyramid called ‘Three Degrees

Birley offices next to Homes For Change

The common denominator shared by all the

in Surface Chemistry’. It was genial and jovial

look like a business park. It was wrong, I

main personalities working in Hulme – Charlie,

– Hulme hadn’t seen that for decades.

don’t know how it happened.

David, Peter etc – was that they all wanted to make a difference. It was very much a team

Recognise different signs of success

effort: no one person could have done it on

Hulme’s crime figures shot up because

their own, no one sector or organisation. But

people had moved back in and were now

beware of professional silos. You can see the

bothering to report crime. They believed

history of the discussion of the plan making in

something would now be done about it

the streetscape.

– there was a sea change of responsibility. You can now walk through Hulme at night,

Celebration brings people together

and it passes the taxi test – when you get

At the end of that first financial year I

in and give your destination, does the driver

commissioned a party like a New Orleans wake

suck his teeth or say good things about it?

Places, not just buildings; quality not just style; value not just cost


Peter Marcus A Civil Law Barrister specialising in housing and landlord & tenant law, Peter was a student and a leading member of the Tenant’s Alliance, the main mouthpiece for the 13 tenant groups in Hulme. He later worked as housing and regeneration manager at the London Borough of Camden and housing policy and practice advisor for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation before taking up law. Tenant involvement is still contentious

went round that if the tenants were sent a

Discussion can avoid prejudice

It was a different era then. In the 1980s

leaflet saying their homes were going to be

Everyone was so used to fighting against

tenant participation was a new idea –

demolished tomorrow, most would still stay

each other – there were too many prejudices.

previously tenants had not been expected to

at home rather than come to a meeting. It

Nowadays it would be different – we would

make significant decisions beyond the colour

is possible to be very cynical about tenant

all get together with a project manager at a

of their front door. Tenants Associations

involvement now – it raises expectations, and

country house away from the site and get to

thought tenants should be able to take all the

most professionals won’t let it get in the way

know one another. Then perhaps we would

decisions – but in reality they didn’t always

of what they want. It needs to be focussed to

have realised that in many ways the things we

want to. Often a lot of wine and a little

be successful.

were after were not so different after all.

supper was needed to tempt tenants out to meetings – but it was amazing that anyone was there sitting in that hall at all. The joke

– ISSUE 02

Participation needs to be focussed

Lead singer of the punk group Goldblade, John has lived in Hulme since 1988: he didn’t

John Robb

pay rent for 15 years but has since bought a flat and lives in the area still. Who is regeneration for?

creatives – although others were just the

…but creativity can survive redevelopment

In a lot of ways it was better before. It was

losers and junkies who come in their wake.

Nowadays it looks like a normal place, with

a playground, but not very safe – and not

It’s fragile. If they’d never knocked it down

normal houses. Some people stayed on and

a good place to bring up a family or to be

there would be more of it today. Though there

got houses – the redevelopment didn’t crush

old. From 1988 to 1992 it was insane – we

would still be drugs – it was the largest squat

the spirit and the culture and it’s certainly a

had weekend long parties. It was a squat

in Britain at the time. It was like a corral in the

safer place to walk through nowadays. And

culture, with the squat lifestyle and politics.

Wild West.

at least there are shops – well, a few small

Sometimes there could be six parties

shops on the Stretford Road and ASDA of

booming across the estate at the same time.

Ancoats never took off culturally like Hulme

course. We are supposed to be cheering

They said they were improving our housing

did because it was too white and working

because a big multinational has opened up,

for us, but really they were trying to get rid of

class. Hulme and Moss Side were more

but generally it’s a big improvement on the

Places, not just buildings; quality not just style, value not just cost ”

us. All that talk about ‘regenerating’ – really

culturally mixed – Moss Side was a Black

old cockroach supermarket.

they were just doing it for yuppies who

area, though it didn’t look as bad as Hulme,

The culture hasn’t disappeared completely,

weren’t very rich, and students.

so when the TV wanted to report trouble in

but it’s mostly a modern version of that stuff

Moss Side they often used pictures of Hulme

– people still making music but many of those

by mistake, especially the Crescents.

musicians are working on the Internet. There

Cities need special places for creativity… It was a pity they’ve been squeezed out as

are some musicians in our building – we

cities need somewhere for free thinkers and

are on head-nodding terms. It’s a dead nice atmosphere, still a good place to live.

I call it ‘Lower Chorlton’ – people who would rather live in Chorlton but can’t afford it live in Hulme ISSUE 02

Hulme in Stats

130,000 Population of Hulme (1930)

25% Percentage of adults in Hulme with degrees (1989 Hulme Study)

35 Number of owner occupiers in Hulme (1981 Census)

7,637 Population of Hulme (1991 Census)


10 – ISSUE 02

Population of Hulme (2001Census)

Unemployment rate (1989 Hulme Study*)

12.7% Economically active but unemployed together with long term sick (2001 Census)

Percentage of adults in Hulme with no qualifications (1989 Hulme Study)

80 5 10,449 21% Number of owner occupiers in Hulme (2001 Census)


12% Proportion of students (1989 Hulme Study)

Number of adults in


Manchester with degrees (2001 Census)

Proportion of Students (2001 Census)

The Fields of Hulme D


’t i t al w

ays s eem to go that you don’t know



The regeneration of Hulme took place amid a blossoming of local green activism. Horticulturalist and former resident Helene Rudlin checks up on its signs of life.

you got t s ill it’


I’m tucking into leek and potato soup at Kim by the Sea, Hulme’s ‘first real restaurant’ according to the Times, which nestles in the Homes For Change housing cooperative on Old Birley Street. Here in the Yellowbricks, as it is known locally, everybody seems to know one another. I spot a kid I haven’t seen for a couple of years and exclaim ‘haven’t you grown!’ This is exactly how we thought Hulme would be back in the late 1980s when we started Homes for Change. I don’t feel I am in central Manchester at all, but in a village, with all the hustle and bustle and friendliness a public place would bring. Through the window I can see the Hulme Community Garden Centre with its cast iron cactus gates entwined with the newly opened leaves of a honeysuckle. Cars and buses speed past along Old Birley Street and I wonder how many of these people in a hurry would consider taking a stroll through the streets and fields of Hulme. Because yes, Hulme has fields, the bit of Hulme that the council seemingly forgot to develop, and this is where I have been seen collecting great brome, cock’s foot, silky bent, orache, field thistle and buddleia to decorate my homegrown flower arrangements. In the café I am sitting under a huge framed photograph of the Birley Tree that once stood in another of Hulme’s fields. This majestic Italian poplar became a symbol for Hulme’s activists who set up a camp in its branches to stop the council from chopping it down. Local kids had adopted the tree as a play area – the best supervised play area I’d seen – flowers were planted along a wishing path encircling its trunk, and picnics had been held in the shade of its large canopy. Unfortunately the council wanted the site for a hotel development. One morning in 1998 just after the guy who had been guarding the tree overnight had had to go to work, council workmen chopped it down. Later that day the community deposited the remains of the fallen tree on the desk of the council officer in charge of the area and the hotel never did get built. But did Hulme’s tradition of radical direct action die with the tree? That was the question I wanted to ask my guest at the café, Tim Hunt, a Hulme Local Project Manager for Action for Sustainable Living. AfSL is a charity that helps people change to a more sustainable lifestyle, including recycling, waste, clothing, energy, food, fair trade, gardening and holidays. As well as studying for

an MA in

Sustainable Development Tim runs the Transition Town project, Transition Town Hulme, or TTH, to respond to the challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change. Previously, Tim was involved with the radical Basement project in the Northern Quarter. ‘Have you ‘grown out of it?’ I ask. ‘Of course not,’ he replies,


just want to be more proactive.


– 11


The Basement was a centre for alternative

rubbish and set alight on bonfire night,

those in public parks. The Common was

culture, radical politics, campaigning and

and more recently the reconstruction of

surveyed during the last Permaculture

art but it was badly damaged by fire last year

Guantanamo Bay, guards and all. A transition

Design course, which ran in Hulme through

and since then we have all moved on to other

initiative, like TTH, is a community working

the summer of 2006. The course included

things. My current concern is the waste of

together using creativity, ingenuity and

lots of outdoor activities, from growing

land, time and money that I see around me

adaptability, creating a way of living that’s

food to wildlife studies, visits to organic

in Hulme. Huge empty areas are earmarked

more connected, more vibrant and more

market gardens like Glebelands and Growing

for business development and offices that

in touch with its environment. Though I

with Grace as well as a stay at the Middle

have already been built stand empty, while

don’t recall a flower shop in Hulme in the

Wood Ecological Trust near Lancaster. The

the council goes on about its green policies.

80s or 90s, I do remember its first organic

biodiversity on this field is staggering and

As well as fighting the constant battles for

produce shop in 1991 called ‘Malarky’ which

includes many butterflies, moths and birds. I

land as happened in the past, we want to

sold locally homemade food. The first

walk pass vetch, ragwort and plantain, black

focus on gathering our skills and positive

organic vegetable box scheme was started by

meddick, ground elder and blackberries,

energy. This is what TTH is trying to do by

Limited Resources in the early 1990s, and

marestail, nettles and thistles, cinqfoil and

acting as a catalyst and bringing together

still exists today. A ‘People’s Kitchen’ takes

clover and a huge quince. Further along I

green initiatives, from computer recycling

place regularly at the Afewee Pub, where

walk through a small coppice of birch, ash,

to organic gardening. Rather than fighting

a dinner will cost you £1.50, and there are

lime, maple, hawthorn, hazel, rhus, elder,

to change things we can’t influence, we just

still dreams of creating a city farm. When

beach, goat willow, buddleia and broom.

want to improve the way we live. It is taking a

visiting Christiana in Copenhagen, I saw the

This thick woodland serves as a buffer

long time to achieve because Hulme moves at

same spirit of community participation, the

from Princess Parkway’s heavy

a slow pace, but that’s a good thing too’.

share of skills, gardens, allotments, and a

traffic and I hear a blackbird sing,

multitude of small businesses, workshops

something which I wouldn’t have

This project reminds me of the many

and enterprises. This spirit was never going

heard 10 years ago. These large

networks here in Hulme before the

to survive the redevelopment of Hulme, but

green areas are not usually seen

redevelopment which gave it its energy

through the work of people like Tim it is clear

as an interesting investment in

– the spontaneous picnics and concerts,

that it is not dead yet and Hulme may yet well

their raw nature, but they are

re-emerge as Manchester’s radical centre.

accessible and welcoming

performances and parties, the laborious structures built from

to all and to those living I leave Tim to stroll across Hulme Common,

next to them they

where once stood blocks of deck access

can truly enhance

flats, and come across several plant

the quality of their

species that I haven’t seen here


before. The variety of plants

A little further

and insects on brownfield

down Leaf

sites exceed



Tow X


tF ields





m by the


a Cafe




me Comm



l Stre e

Old Birley Tree Old


12 – ISSUE 02





Accross Bon

ommon eC lm


Street all

ards Princess P ar













ld Two





rch ay Fie w



Accross A r





s Sretford R












de n

h Arc

Street I reach




rley Tree

From left: The view on Stretford Road, The scene at Leaf Street North and a shot of Helene in Hulme circa 1992.

Hulme’s other radical enclave, the ‘Redbricks’,

Manchester in Bloom awards at the Town

born on to grassland. As a species we passed

a series of 1930s walk-up flats huddled up

Hall. It was good to see amongst all of the

our childhood and adolescence in grassy

against the Mancunian Way. Leaf Street as it

manicured lawns and flower beds that

places. When we learned to reconstruct our

runs through the Redbricks was ‘landscaped’

Patrick, a caretaker from Hulme, was given

environment we surrounded ourselves with

by the council in the 90s, creating a strip of

an award for a 5m by 10m garden at the foot

the vegetation that made us feel at ease with

grass. That is until the residents took it over

of a tower block where he grows vegetables

ourselves. We took it into the city and spread

as part of an earlier 72-hour Permaculture

and perennials and has constructed little

it around our homes. We played on it, we

Design course in 1999, using the site for a

gazebos and benches. A myriad of other

fought on it, we loved and died on it.” We

practical design exercise, and transformed it

green initiatives in Hulme include the Zion

have done all these things and more, much

into today’s Leaf Street Community Garden.

Health and Resource Centre’s sensory garden,

more, on the fields of Hulme. us

Following consultation a masterplan was

Eddie’s planters along Upper Chorlton

created which has slowly evolved into the

Road where climbers and flowers thrive,

garden today. This includes the ‘World’s

Homes for Change’s courtyard with its wild

largest herb spiral’, and a network of wood-

flower meadow and roof gardens, the Hulme

chipped paths between raised vegetable beds,

Urban Gardens Society, the Friends of the

soft fruit bushes, wildflowers, ornamental

Hulme Park and last but not least, the

shrubs, compost heaps and a willow tunnel

four allotment plots clinging to a verge

where kids gather to eat pears and apples.

of Princess Road which the local

Residents created all this, the only money

authorities have ignored for over

they received in the early days being £300

20 years, but which a waiting

from the Unicorn Grocery Coop in Chorlton.

list of 10 years.

However the garden has moved on as local people raised funds to employ a part time

The green spirit of Hulme

project co-ordinator to garden, support

is still alive but I wonder

volunteers and run community events in warm

for how long will it be possible

weather. The early aim of food production has

to say the same of its

not been realised because of excessive shade,

fields. As Graham

impoverished soil and pollution, but the focus

Harvey writes in

has shifted more towards recreation and

The Forgiveness

wildlife and the garden is a wonderful refuge

of Nature: “Human

just yards from the city centre.

beings were conceived and

Earlier this year I was invited to the

They pa ved


r ise and put up a pa



i ,w lot






a l, te

u bo

u tiq

d e an

a swingin

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Taxi’, Jon ellow i M g Y itc ‘Bi he




– 13

New Homes for Little Change Homes for Change set out to create a socially sustainable way of living in the city by providing affordable, quality urban homes and workspace for a community to inhabit and run. But Paul Bower’s attempts to break into Social Housing lead him to question if the Homes for Change model can still unlock the ongoing housing crisis, or whether it has now become a victim of the welfare state.

14 – ISSUE 02

Cheap as chips?

most in need of housing, but unfortunately

offer varied financial packages and create

If you have £130,000 to spare you can

for Homes for Change this ‘ladder’ system

quality places to live – something that typical

purchase a new shiny two-bed home

all too often results in a co-location of

developer-led social housing has never

(apartment) in Hulme today and have little

vulnerable individuals, families and couples

until now attained in the UK, having been

change in your pocket to show for it. The

who suffer from the multi-faceted inflictions

stigmatised by poor build quality and large

impact of the global credit crunch, coupled

of social immobility. Under such scoring

profits. Last year the government outlined

with the UK’s previous decade of continual

those who may not be in such dire straits but

in its Housing Green Paper twelve social

lending and spending mean that it has never

genuinely want to be part of a socially mixed

housing commitments3, one of which was

been so hard for first time buyers to purchase

community, rather than just a cheap place

providing more opportunities for the private

and retain a property, and yet social housing

to live, are forced to look elsewhere. This

sector to build social housing. Nevertheless,

is an alternative that can seem closed or

dilemma is confounded by the lack of social

what remains uncertain is whether such loose

unavailable to them.

housing available in the UK, as many council

commitments will be capable of delivering

houses were bought by their occupiers back

first class mixed social housing that people

In the same boat

in the 1980s and never fully replaced, making

once more aspire to live in and be proud

In my short time living in Manchester I have

social housing today a rationed commodity

of, rather than feeling lumped with as a

witnessed the housing market change

– available only to those who need it most.

last resort. If residents are able to choose

around me, but Homes for Change has been

Any attempts at social and cultural diversity

housing which best fits their current social

anchored in my mind throughout. When I

are seemingly being forced to walk the plank.

and economic status and are not labelled or

rented a room in Hulme a few years ago I cycled past the housing co-operative scheme

grouped for doing so, then a greater diversity Setting Sail

of sustainable communities can be achieved.

daily on my way to work, a majestic complex

One solution might seem to be building

Rather than simply constructing new homes

of buildings surrounded by a stagnant ‘sea’

more places like Homes for Change, but

for little change, we can, through revisiting

of untouched and unoccupied business

the reality of delivering another Homes for

seminal projects like Homes for Change raise

units, and I wondered what it might be like

Change within the current housing system

questions and dialogue that will go a long

to live in. The projecting walkways, multiple

would probably see it sink before it set sail.

way to overhauling the current social housing

levels and bridges made me think of a ship

The current system of centralised control

system that has seemingly run aground, and

at sea, rather than any housing I had seen

that sees the formation of large unwieldy

construct homes that really do mean change

before. If it had sails I was sure it would

Housing Associations would seem to be in

for all involved. us

float down the Princess Road to warmer

direct conflict with a co-operative model

lands, and dock with similar ‘ships’ in a port

offering more control to the resident. Yet if we


somewhere sunnier. More recently these

are to achieve the aspirations for affordable

Associations and gave the grant funding to make

romantic daydreams transformed into a

housing and workspace that led to the likes of

Homes for Change rents affordable

desire to jump aboard Homes for Change

Homes for Change and its lesser known, but


and experience, I hoped, a new way of living

successful house-mate, Work for Change ,

space and affordable workspace that shares the

in the city not rooted in corporately branded

then new funding models are necessary, with

building with Homes for Change

lifestyles but offering a more participative

the impetus taken away from the state and


and collective approach. Little did I think that

shared with an independent body capable of

can be sourced from: www.communities.gov.

getting on board would be quite so difficult as

delivering and managing affordable, not for


I find myself still standing on the ‘dockside’,

profit housing in a given localised context.

A summary of the 12 commitments:


seeking permission to step aboard.

Getting Stuck on the Social Ladder/Plank

A government agency which regulates Housing

A co-operative of ethical and cultural business

A free downloadable version of the Green Paper


One such way the UK’s current narrow


spectrum of housing could be widened


Boarding control, introduced and enforced

is for local government to open fully the

by the Housing Corporation1, takes the form

social housing market to a new breed of

of a social points system that scores your

ethical developers coming to the surface;

social status. Rightly it prioritises those

who prioritise mixed use developments,


– 15

MOSS SIDE & HULME Historic Development

In the 1930s Hulme was a poor but lively district with 130,000 residents and almost 1,000 shops. The first redevelopments took place in the mid 1930s but it was not until the 1960s that the area was comprehensively redeveloped. The area was redeveloped with six deck access estates the largest of which was the Crescents started in 1971 and designed by the architects Wilson and Womersley (Womersley had been the Sheffield City Architect who commissioned Park Hill). The Crescents were made up of four curved nine-storey blocks modelled on the Georgian Crescents of Bath. To make the point each Crescent was named after a Georgian architect: Charles Barry, William Kent, Robert Adam and John Nash, with an extra bit called Nicholas Hawksmoor Close.

Hulme had originally been designed for families. However after a child fell from one of the walkways in 1976, families were moved out and to keep the estate occupied the large flats were let to anyone who applied so making them accessible to young, single people and


students. Over the years the community developed into one of the most lively and unorthodox in the city. Apartments were converted to cafes, rehearsal rooms and studios for artists, musicians, sculptors

The story of Hulme’s redevelopment is a long one and has been

and poets. For much of the 1980s Hulme was Manchester’s Christania

described elsewhere (including our book Building the 21st Century

or Kreuzberg – a place apart and a magnet for people looking for a

Home). The process was fraught with difficulties, arguments and

different way of life.

sackings but eventually a set of rules was agreed upon for the redevelopment of the area. These were set down in Rebuilding the

The inevitable happened and in the late 1980s a decision was taken to

City: The Hulme Guide to Development (still available on the URBED

redevelop the estate. The first attempt was through a Housing Action

web site) which stipulated simple things such as all streets should

Trust, which was fought off by tenants and the second was though

end in other streets, all buildings should face onto these streets and

City Challenge which started in 1991. However the people who lived in

take their main point of access from them. It set rules for density and

Hulme knew that parts of it worked and feared that the estate would be

for a mix of uses as well as setting out the scale and proportion of

replaced with suburban housing as indeed the early plans had intended.

the streets and the creation of a consistent building line. None of this

Fortunately the political leadership in the city shared these fears.

seemed particularly radical as indeed it wasn’t.

16 – ISSUE 02



The Guide was adopted in 1994 but even before then was being

Since that time it has become the norm for new development and very

used to shape the redevelopment with the active support of the City’s

slowly British cities are changing, but Hulme remains the first.

leadership. Over the 14 years since then much of Hulme has been rebuilt as the plan to the right shows. Some of the new housing is

However when people visit Hulme to see this radicalism they are

very good, some of it is very mediocre. The neighbourhood is at once

invariably disappointed. Much of the area is built out with cheap

mundane and radical although the radical bits are easy to miss. It was

private housing with no architectural quality. The area has been built at

the first neighbourhood in England to build simple urban housing facing

too low density for its position in the centre of the city and is deserted

onto streets with apartments on the corners and private courtyards to

for much of the day and fails to sustain mix of uses or more than a

the rear. The sort of simple urbanism that has been the backbone of

handful of shops. It therefore represents just a first step on the road to

all towns and cities for millennia was considered radical in the UK and

re-urbanising the UK. us

Hulme was the first to show that it could be done.


– 17

“The world’s longest mistake”? Sustainable urban design and the renovation of social housing estates: also a disciplinary problem Italy is not somewhere that you associate with modernist planning.

architects who created estates like the kilometre long block at Corviale

However while most Italian citizens managed to avoided the

outside Rome continue to be celebrated in exhibitions while the

modernists, the tenants of social housing estates were less lucky. In

architectural establishment try and explain away why the celebrated

March 2006 the Politecnico di Milano organized a conference to look

estates did not work. At the same time an Italian new urbanism

at ways in which these estates have been tackled across Europe at

movement is emerging, as in the UK, that proposed a very different

which David Rudlin from URBED was invited to speak. The project

approach to these estates, something you would think to be self-evident

was organised by Sergio Porta and this is his keynote address to

to the Italians! The full proceedings are available on URBED’s web site.

the conference translated from the Italian. In it he describes how the


The periphery and the

Student project

culture of design: failure of

from Laboratorio

the periphery?

di Progettazione Urbanistica, looking at the St. Ambrose

The title of this contribution, that also is the

district in Milan

tile of the seminar held at the Polytechnic


of Milan in March 2006, evokes an article published in the issue 273 of the French magazine of architecture “L’architecture d’Aujourd’Hui”, February 1991, an issue that deepened the problems inherent in the large scale of urban transformations. In particular that article, written by Careri and La Roque,

integration, economic stagnation, failure

entered the scene with ideas, evaluations,

addressed a strict criticism of the Corviale

of the retail community commerce system,

tools. From opposite positions it invokes

estate, a massive social housing project built

physical and environmental decay and finally

the complete demolition and reconstruction

in Rome during the seventies by a group of

the most serious, the most dangerous of

(like in Pruitt-Igoe or Hulme) or more subtle

architects led by Mario Fiorentino. The story

all: poor generational turn-over. The sons, if

processes of immersion and valorisation of

of Corviale is similar to that of most, if not all,

just they can, they leave. To escape from the

the social, together with the architectural and

the social housing estates raised up in the

estate is perceived in itself as a success. To

environmental, context. The very existence of

western world in the same years.

remain in the estate as a failure.

such a debate tells a lot of the level reached

It is similar, in example, to the story of Pruitt

From time to time, often under the pressure

Igoe, a large social housing estate realized

of news items, yesterday the homicides

The disciplines of architecture and urban

in St. Louis a few years before Corviale

in Rozzano, today the Parisian banlieues

design are part of this. We architects and

then demolished in 1972. The synthesis

on fire, the debate on what to do with the

urban designers apparently approach the

of such stories is in the very fact that, less

large social housing estates has expanded,

question of the periphery with deep divisions,

than half a century later, the renewal of

interwoven with the problem of the

especially about the role and the responsibility

such massive residential stock is one of the

peripheries as a whole, particularly with

of the project, of form I would say, in the

most relevant issues in the urban planning

the sprawled low density suburbs. From

production of the social disease: it is my

agenda in all western world Countries. It has

this point of view, that is from the point of

personal conviction that to make clear the

been understood that the problem is not

view of urban sustainability, these are two

nature of such contrapositions and to take

just the renewal of buildings, but rather the

faces of the same coin. In that debate it is

a stand among them is important to free the

social and economic renewal of all involved

possible to hear voices coming from different

potential that architects and urban designers

communities of those neighbourhoods. Such

disciplines. Sociology, urban anthropology,

have to positively contribute to the debate.

communities, in fact, almost always suffer for

micro-economy, human and economic

And that drives back to the title of the seminar

the same problems: poor social and spatial

geography, transport and urban planning,

and the Corviale estate.

by the disaster.

18 – ISSUE 02


The periphery and the culture of design: failure of the culture of design?

I’ll put it badly: is the historical failure of the

The second reason is that a few months

professional association and the Dean of the

periphery also the historical failure of our

ago, which means a good 15 years after the

School of Architecture of the local university

disciplinary tradition?

article in question, a celebration of the same

remembering that the designer had been

Fiorentino’s Corviale together with the ZEN in

- which is pure truth - an eminent exponent of

I am not hanging around the question too

Palermo by Vittorio Gregotti and the

the Italian architectural culture of his times, so

long and I will say that in my opinion yes,

Monte Amiata in Milan by Aldo Rossi and

much so that his work was celebrated in a big

absolutely yes: the failure of our metropolitan

Carlo Aymonino, has been played through

exhibition just three years ago.

peripheries also - I underline “also”, so

a seminar and an exhibition in Parma (the

“not only” - happened through the active

exhibition is still crossing through Italy): “such

Therefore Corviale, like Zen, Monte Amiata,

contribution of the culture of architectural

estates”, was argued in the presentation,

the “Scampìa sails” and lots of others, is

and urban design - if with that we intend its

“emerge at the urban and landscape scales

actually the symbol of an internal conflict, of a

original root, its DNA, its constituent generator

and at the architectural scale, expressing the

break within the disciplines of the project: is it

and to date still its mainstream, which is

most advanced achievements of the housing

- and what it represents - a mistake, or better

grounded on hygenism, a fundamental

articulation. [They] witness a possibility that

the “world’s longest mistake”, or a lesson for

antiurbanism, a will of power, a top-down

the city still has to give itself forms that only

the future? It is evident in short that, whatever

vision (yesterday supported by dreams of

architecture shapes”. Lexicon apart (but

position one may hold, here there is a

social engineering, today by the crisis of

that is not apart, actually, as more space

problem. A substantial part of our architectural

evaluative machines and the weakness of

would deserve the analysis of the use that

and urban culture is not able to calmly answer

cultural discourses), an heroic image of the

the architects vanguard’s cliques do of the

to the question: “what the architects have to

designer that comes together with an artistic

lexicon to build the walls of a discipline’s

do with the peripheries’ degradation?”.

approach to the job, and finally an inclination

simulacrum around themselves), lexicon apart

to separate reality in isolated phenomena

I was saying, Corviale, Zen and Monte Amiata

Of course I have already made my point clear,

missing connections and feed-backs (which

are proposed as “unmissable disciplinary

but I would like to quickly proceed with a

means missing systems’ complexity). These

achievements”; that is: icons for the

deeper reflection on this issue.

characters are all constituent of our discipline,

architecture of the future. Some weeks ago I

as they emerged together with the formation

read of a dispute provoked by a statement of

The first thing is that yes, once again, the

of urban design at the end of the XIX century,

the minister Iervolino who, on the occasion

architectural culture is not the only factor

and finally came to a full realization with

of the demolishment of one of the so-called

at work in the construction of metropolitan

the simplifications and formalisms as much

“Scampìa sails” (huge social housing blocks

peripheries and we are not unaware of the

of the modern tradition as of the so-called

soon evolved in ghettoes of social exclusion

risk to fall into a “deterministic” attitude, that

architectural post-modernism; moreover, we

and crime), accused the designer, Franz di

is the danger that derives from thinking that

still in our days - which is mostly interesting

Salvo, who passed away many years ago;

certain architectural configurations will directly

- find such a lot of them in much of the current

against the minister’s accusations immediately

determine certain social behaviours, both

design production: I refer to the solipsistic,

rose up the President of the local architects

those desired and those, like in this case,

self-celebrative, sculptural attitudes that pervade the cultural circuits of contemporary design. The Corviale in Rome comes from this culture; it is a symbol of it and one of the more explicit. The shortcomings and failures attributed to that architectural culture in terms of inhabitability, liveability, durability is provided: Corviale, “the world’s longest mistake” (it consists of a one kilometre long linear block), was taken as an icon of that failure. But this is just the first reason that I am interested in Corviale today.

Milano Verde, Pagano, Gardella e altri, 1938. ISSUE 02

– 19


Characteristics of a new humanism for the design of space.

undesired. Of course, I am saying this once

realized, abusive occupations occurred. The

But indeed in front of the crisis of the models

and for all, we know that the form’s impact on

call, in short, to the invocation of Le Corbusier

there is a second kind of answers: the gradual

people’s behaviour is mediated by thousands

who stated: “The harmonious city must firstly

reframing of our disciplinary culture. Some

of other factors - social, cultural, economic,

be planned by experts who know the science

of the same masters had the time, force and

climatic. We know that the ecological system,

of urbanism. They will elaborate their plans

lucidity to initiate this process of reframing

that is the system of the relationships between

in total freedom from external pressures

in the warm body, still young and kicking, of

man and physical environment, is a highly

and particular interests; once their plans are

orthodox planning. Bottoni, Rogers to look

complex system within which the spatial

formulated they must be actuated without

at Milan (I am speaking of Ernesto Nathan

dimension is just one of the many players on

opposition” (Le Corbusier, in Hall P, 2002).

Rogers of course…). But no doubts that

the field.

My goodness, the model was perfect, but

generally speaking that reframing follows the

there is always something that comes to stain

classical scheme of scientific revolutions, a

But, and this is the point, complexity can

it, mutilate it, to break the crystal, to smash

struggle between alternative paradigms, with

not be an alibi. It seems in fact undisputable

up the piece of art. There is always some

all the conflicts between organizations, power

that, in the construction of the great social

excess of criminals, some surplus of poverty,

groups, tools. And this story, in Italy at least, is

housing projects, the story has not been one

some budget cut, some personal initiative

in the middle of its process. Or better, it is just

of a struggle led by the architectural culture

of inhabitants, some error in construction.

begun. And at the core of that conflict today

against overwhelming counterpowers, let’s

Life, my goodness, does not seem to be

we find again the social housing estates,

say a generous and lost struggle. It seems


no more or not just the question of their

on the contrary that the story has been one

construction, but the huge problem of their

where the architectural culture had found in

Second, there has been no failure: indeed

the realization of such estates the opportunity

we witness clues of social re-aggregation,

to realize in walls and mud its most advanced

here a voluntary association, there even

What are the fundamental elements of this

principles. Social housing estates have been,

a local television station. But there is a

alternative culture of urban design? To offer

for the whole post-war period, the direct - I

third argument, particularly subtle: it is not

a summary is not hard work. There is a lot of

would say “crystalline” - emanation of the

the models that failed, it is the city that is

material at hand (just for a beginning: Newman

urban models of “orthodox modernism” - to

complex. Too complex. After all, we architect

and Kenworthy, 1999; Urban Task Force,

put it like Jane Jacobs - through the work

are with bare hands facing such complexity:

1999; Frey, 1999; Llewelyn-Davies, 2000).

of its most celebrated masters. Here we see

no one knows what to do in such a mess

And here is the news: the news, in fact, is that

for instance the project “Milano verde” by

or, to put it like Stefano Boeri, director of

it is not true at all that we architects do not

Pagano, Gardella and other young Milanese

the most important architectural magazine

know what to do with complexity and with the

rationalists (1938). Incidentally, we can rapidly

in Italy: “The truth is that today we do not

agglomeration of detached houses. On the

see what is the opinion of the inhabitants of

know how to redevelop to a real urban life

contrary it is true that during the last ten years

the Barzoni estate, realized by Arrighetti again

those nebulas of detached houses, small

and more, drawing from an uninterrupted

in Milan (second half of the fifties), on some of

cottages, warehouses that has grown around

reflection emerged since the early sixties,

our masters’ realizations. In short, in front of

our cities” (Boeri S, 2005a). But there’s more:

the international scientific community in

Corviale we architects, like in front of a magic

we must, humbly by Jove, “recognize at last

the disciplines of architecture and urban

mirror, see ourselves, our deepest roots.

the marginality of our actions in the societies

design has found a substantial consensus

That’s why it is so hard for us to exert criticism

of the multitudes” (Boeri S, 2005b). That is,

around key-principles, visions, real cases

and consciousness: because it is self-criticism

here we go with the most dangerous of the

and practices for the revitalization of cities, of

and self-consciousness that we speak of.

arguments: the maximalism of complexity as

peripheries and also, within this framework, of

a pretext for a rhetoric of impotence and a

social housing estates.

How did we react, in fact, to the

reclaiming, renovation and revitalization.

practice of permanent de-responsibility – ‘The

problem of peripheries? How it could be

city is so complex, there is nothing we poor

Keywords are: neighbourhood, community,

expected, that is in two ways. On one side

architects can do, therefore we may well give

density, compactness, diversity (of persons,

there is a sheltering behind the defence of

up and do absolutely what we like more and

buildings, functions), public space, public

the principles of disciplinary mainstream.

come back to our favourite little games: spun

life, ecological network, alternative mobility,

Why did the models fail? First, because they

skyscrapers, technological ziggurat, neo-pop

traffic calming, traffic demand management

were betrayed in practice. Buildings were

deconstructions etc. Symbols, style and let’s

rather than offer provision. In short, hierarchy

not completed, services were not completely

leave all the rest to sociologists’.

of communities that should be individuated,

20 – ISSUE 02


Making the change.

approached and structured by means of

is named “School of Civil Architecture”), the

One strolls around the university departments

a hierarchy of collective and individual

students’ works at our Laboratory of Urban

of all the world and sees, attached to the

alternative mobility. The goal, as in a recent

Design are inspired. Students produce

walls, the streets and squares of our historical

European research named Eco-city, is the

projects for the renovation of social housing

cities taken as models for the sustainable city

“city of short distances” (see the final report

estates built in Milan after the second

of the future. On the contrary in our country

of the Eco-city project at: http://www.

World War. Key steps: 1. Field analysis;

the debate does not seem to escape the

ecocityprojects.net/uploa d/00Library/

2. Manipulation of the urban model. Field

pendulum between conservation (including

ECOCITY_Publishable_ Final_Report.pdf).

analysis builds arguments, not truths. It builds

conservation of the modern) and oblivion.

and validates them within the discipline, then

We should instead recognize that in historical

A recognizable disciplinary body, ready to

arguments are proposed outside, put on

settings we can find operating lessons for the

provide ideas, experiences, attitudes, that

the table of social negotiation, the language

nodal informational city of the future (Newman

are suitable for complex arenas and rich of

opened, an open and consensus-based

and Kenworthy, 1999) in terms of the public

tools. Useful stuff, theoretically grounded,

process formed. The manipulation of the

space framework, the functional mix and the

oriented to action. This is so true that in

urban model, not just the intervention on

fundamental interface between public and

native countries (United Kingdom, Canada,

single buildings, is the major contribution that

private realms. It is in that, not in problems

Australia, even the United States) the time for

we can and must give. It emerges from the

of style or language, that the premodern city

experimentations, the time of adolescence

self-criticism that we mentioned before.

teaches us a new urbanity for the future.

time of a critical reflection on the delivered

Therefore the renewal of social housing

I believe that this lesson is relevant for our

achievements. Not only it is not true that

estates should be also, and maybe mainly, a

times. Indeed, I believe that it has been long

we don’t know what to do, but we already

process of urban design, which should grow

waited for, not just by the people but by

have known what to do in the past, we have

around a specific urban design “device”:

the builders and real estate agents as well.

experimented and are now reflecting on such

the Master Plan. As for that, we that work in

The feeling I have is that it is not true that

experiences; the adolescence of a new culture

the cradle of the Renaissance ideally place

the market is as bad as it is claimed to be. I

of urbanity is over and we are entering the

ourselves within the stream of “an urban

have the feeling that builders and real estate

adult age.

Renaissance” as well.

agents would benefit a lot from a change in

Have we got the keys for the solution of

This wink to the Renaissance comes of

common sensibility and architectural culture;

the problems of peripheries? Well, let’s

course from the reference to the work of

a distance that, at the end of the chain,

not joke. But we have something: we have

the Urban Task Force in the UK (Urban Task

increases the entrepreneurial risk by provoking

larger shoulders, large enough to take some

Force, 1999), but it also comes from an

alienation to places and environments, de-

responsibilities. To this culture of urbanity and,

indeed great contradiction that refers to our

qualifying both products and brands, “firing”

I would say, of civil responsibility (our School

country, Italy.

the decisional arena through the diffusion

if you want, has been overcome by the

design that can reduce the distance between

of lethal cynicism and suspicion among the actors. The hope is that it is possible to walk together for a while, more together than we have been doing so far, between builders with a long sight in the future, subjects capable of common vision and reciprocal trust, and architects that, following the invocation of an old Corviale inhabitant, “do not commit certain mistakes anymore, never commit such mistakes!” (Careri and La Roque, 1991). us

Le Corbusier, Hall P, 2002.


– 21

Debbie Fuller is an urban designer with URBED and has lived in Hulme for more than 10 years. She reflects on the wider lessons she believes Hulme can teach us on communities, housing and regeneration

22 – ISSUE 02

Tyler, Sidari and Aliyah plus friends dancing in Hulme Park

A kickabout in Hulme Park

s a working class professional from a mixed cultural

One of the most fundamental differences between the Hulme of the

background I made a conscious decision to stay in Hulme

70s and the new Hulme has been the structure of the neighbourhood:

– it provides the mix that I need to feel comfortable, and

it is now a well-connected, walkable neighbourhood with a structure

provides my children with a community where they can identify with

of well-defined streets of suburban houses and flats. However, while

other children from a variety of backgrounds.

regeneration has brought major changes to the physical environment, questions remain over whether it has improved social and economic

I have been through the statutory homelessness route and was at first

prospects for the community.

allocated very poor quality council home in Hulme while friends were allotted new homes, reserved for those who had refused to move when

Within Hulme there is a divide between those areas where the majority

the Crescents were demolished. But looking back it was the very fact

of homes are either owned or privately rented and the areas of RSL and

that I did not get a nice home at first that gave me the motivation to do

Local Authority housing. The new community moving into the area

something about my situation and decide to get some training, a job,

and the older community do not mix and most crimes such as burglary

and to buy a home outright.

and damage to property is targeted in the area of the private homes.

When I was studying planning at the University of Manchester many of

Unfortunately there is a serious lack of intermediate market housing

my fellow students were afraid to come to Hulme. They knew it by its

in Hulme. This has meant that local people who have lived in the area

reputation as a regeneration case study, a place that had undergone a

for many years missed out on the opportunity to get onto the property

comprehensive redevelopment but was still a ghetto – a view reinforced

ladder and increase their economic prosperity. Many people live in

by frequent news reports of youths being shot in gang-related

pretty RSL houses but they are still in the same poverty trap they where

feuds. When I offered to take some of those students on tour of my

in before they moved from the Crescents. There was no support, nor

neighbourhood they were surprised by what they discovered.

were there any incentives for council tenants to buy homes.

Despite the negative press, the regeneration of Hulme has completely transformed the area. Hulme Park is a major asset and provides a green lung for the neighbourhood while the Zion Centre, one of the oldest buildings in Hulme, has been refurbished into a community centre with weekly classes ranging from African drumming, Capoeira and yoga to radio broadcast and DJing. ISSUE 02

– 23

Property developers bought up properties to let to professionals

If regeneration is to be successful then we need to invest more in

working in the city centre, attracted to Hulme’s convenient location and

local people

still reasonable house prices compared to other areas, and house prices rose: there is now an under-provision of adequate social rented housing

Overall I love living here. I have access to a market, a supermarket,

and an excess of houses on the open market priced at up to £180,000

fantastic community facilities, a leisure centre, a park – and yet I am

– levels that few local people can afford. Only more recently have

close to the city centre. Above all, I have a wide network friends and

government-sponsored initiatives such as the equity-sharing HomeBuy

family members who still live in the area. My kids can play out on the

products been introduced. There is not a single bank in the new Hulme

street and I never have to worry about them because we all look out

and there is no access to information on home ownership or money

for each other. Hulme is my neighborhood and I am proud to live in a


place where there is so much diversity.

If a major purpose of regeneration is to increase economic prosperity

Gang related crime is still an issue, and over the last year there have

then as regeneration practitioners we need to look at how we can

been a number of shootings. It is a sign of youth in crisis within the

promote opportunities for communities to be able to help themselves

community and young people feeling the need to be part of a group

– providing local people with the necessary skills to access jobs,

where they feel recognised and respected. Local youth lack the

promoting local entrepreneurship and supporting business start-ups,

confidence to make money through traditional employment and often

and helping people to be able to manage money.

come from families where parents are unemployed and there are financial pressures. I believe that more needs to be done to encourage

Many of these observations, and those of my colleague Paul Bower (see

young children from a very early age to have more confidence to

p.14) agree with the findings of a major study of social housing, the

develop their individual talents and reach for their goals.

Hills Report (February 2007) , which has examined the future role 1

of social housing in the UK. The report identifies problems with the

I believe this is a truly sustainable community, which has established

current housing system and suggests changes to housing policy. Some

itself over time despite the periods of upheaval. With time I am certain

of the fundamental flaws highlighted include people using statutory

that the prospects for local businesses will improve and maybe the new

homelessness route as a means to accessing affordable housing,

residents will integrate more with the old. It is now up to local people

Housing Benefits contributing to the Poverty Trap – more points are

to make the neighborhood a success and to have more confidence in the

given to those in more dire circumstances, with a consequential fear of

diverse and dynamic community that exists here.us

employment resulting in lost benefits, and the treatment of applicants as numbers – with no assessment of individual needs nor appropriate

¹Ends and Means: The future roles of social housing in England, John Hills, LSE

solutions offering a wider choice of housing options. The new Life Buildings, Hulme High Street

24 – ISSUE 02

Moving swiftly on Charlie Baker offers a critique of the new Hulme in this commentary to his photographs.

Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the following photographs is the lack of people. They were taken on a warm weekday evening and a sunny Saturday afternoon. Hulme 3 is a demonstration of the limitations of putting the way it looks before the way it works. I think we knew we were in trouble when the opening paragraph of the City Challenge bid said they wanted Hulme to be ordinary. Hulme had extraordinary in bucket loads, it was the most varied place I have ever experienced, from people whose families had been here since the start, to people released from any institution you’d care to mention, to migrants from across the planet and of course to students. You were as likely to meet an ex-offender as an ex-public schoolboy and so Hulme offered a model for a genuinely tolerant, open and pluralistic society, surely the grail of successful cities? As for the cultural productivity, there were bands everywhere with artists in between; yes loads were shocking, but many weren’t. So I have difficulty trumpeting the success of the Hulme redevelopment because I start from what it could have been, I don’t calibrate my view by the anodyne anywheres that it is compared with. ISSUE 02

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Hulme was never ordinary, the people that

from backgrounds that pride social mobility

bonds, they are like gravity: whittle the total

made it were always that little bit more

over community implicitly have the least

mass down far enough and it is like clutching

extreme. But Hulme people’s meaning of

understanding of what it is that they are

at fog trying to retrieve what may be already

ordinary was not the one used, it came from

playing with. Yet the bonds that tie even the

lost. Making most people move twice ensured

outside – and this is a problem repeated

strongest communities together are not as

that too many who left Hulme during the

across the country. Too many times those

strong as they seem, they are not nuclear

redevelopment never returned.

The figures make it look like there are no problems anymore – unemployment down, (by moving the unemployed out, and counting the Science park in the output area), new homes, apparently designed with full community participation (6 people formed the ‘community participation’ in one development of 250 homes). How do you reconcile that with your own reality if you are a shelf stacker in Asda living in a home with walls so badly insulated that you can hear you neighbour on the toilet, but can’t get the landlord to respond?

26 – ISSUE 02

Such was the concern that the houses would sell they were sold to anyone, with few restrictions on re-sale so that millions in public funding was lost during the first batch of resales. There have to be shared interests and common assumptions to define a community: the lack of those interests between the renters and too many of the owners has created a divided community. The density fell way short of the Guide to Development’s stipulation – 60dph instead of 90 (and that was a compromise from the 125 we first put in). The mixed use just didn’t happen – in too many parts there is less now than there was. Add too many parking courts inside blocks behind remote controlled gates and what is there to be on the street for? Too many of the area’s streets are dead, through a lack of any reason to be there and a lack of willingness to. So with too few people with too few reasons to animate the streets, is it any surprise that crime is high? us


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