In a city in the UK, urban redevelopment and urban regeneration have been considered to solve the problem of urban decay in slums. Which do you think is a better idea?

I am going to use the city of Glasgow as a case study to show the effects of urban redevelopment, and urban regeneration, and from his I will decide which is the better idea for stopping the urban decay in slums.

Urban redevelopment is the knocking down and replacing and rebuilding in urban areas. It happened in Glasgow between 1957 and 1974. It involved the clearance of tenement housing in the inner city areas of the city. Houses were flattened to the ground with bulldozers and the existing communities were broken up and forced to split up and relocate to new housing estates on the edge of the city. This new housing was supposed to replace the inner city housing, which dated from as far back as the nineteenth century.

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The tenements which were demolished had been built extremely quickly and densely, so that as many families as possible could be housed in a small area. Therefore, this housing was high-density, of poor quality, and overcrowded. There were few amenities provided in the houses (such as no indoor WC, bathroom, sewerage or electricity). For these reasons, the local government decided it was necessary to redevelop the inner city sites and re-house existing families in modern housing. However this new housing mostly consisted of high- rise blocks, and this caused many problems.

The government built around 250 of these high rise flats because the advantages were seen as follows:

* High density of population could be housed using small ground space

* They were ‘modern’ compared with the housing stock that people were moved out of

* They were relatively cheap to build

* They were seen as an ideal social environment – with their shared open space, which was supposed to promote a sense of community and shared pride in their local environment

However, the later part of the last century saw many of these high rise blocks destroyed and replaced by low-rise housing, as they had turned into ‘slum estates’ due to the design which promoted crime (e.g. joined walkways which allowed a burglar an easy getaway!) and other factors.

The blocks were quickly built with poor quality materials and design and were poorly maintained. They were damp and isolated and there was no community any more. Many still lacked basic amenities – for example, between 1950 and 1970 more than 50% of the homes had no bath. The high rise blocks were often visually unattractive and were run down in appearance. They lacked individuality. The young mothers and elderly felt isolated, as the buildings were so tall. In the year 1982, 25000 people left because they didn’t like the new housing accommodation and there was a massive lack of jobs as many businesses were destroyed in the bulldozing. The schemes were disruptive, unpopular with residents and expensive and slow to accomplish.

The term ‘urban regeneration’ refers to the improvement of previously run-down inner city areas. Urban regeneration is the renovating of existing buildings. An example of this is the Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal (GEAR) project, which took place from 1976-1987and the Govan initiative, which took place in Glasgow between 1987-1994. The project’s aim was to avoid the problems caused by the demolition and re-housing involved in earlier projects of slum clearance in the inner city.

The GEAR project tried to modernise existing housing stock alongside the building of 2000 new private homes. It also gave 100 million pounds towards setting up new businesses. Around 1200 tenements were renovated (repaired and redecorated) with modern amenities such as bathrooms, and were given character. This project improved housing and stopped the loss of population from the area. It also attracted 300 new factories, bringing new jobs into an area of high unemployment. This approach has achieved the most important aim of urban renewal, to bring back life to the old parts of our cities.

Overall, I think that the regeneration scheme is a much more successful way to deal with urban decay in slums. The most powerful evidence of the failure of urban redevelopment occurred when some replacement housing, built in the 1960’s in Hutchensontown, itself was demolished in 1987. This is a classic example of the failure of redevelopment. Regeneration was successful because it focused on renovating existing structurally sound buildings, instead of building weak unwanted high rise blocks. It also helped build 300 new factories providing much-needed jobs. The residents did not even like the buildings built in the redevelopment scheme. People were much happier with characterised flats in old, but strong buildings.

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