Broadwater Farm, Streit um Sozialwohnungen in Großbritannien!

Zum Streit über die Pläne Sozialwohnbausiedlungen niederzureißen gab es von mir in der taz diesen Bericht www.taz.de/Sozialer-Wohnungsbau-in-London/!5274362/

über die Wohnsiedlung Broadwater Farm in Tottenham.

Broadwater Farm 1

Broad Water Farm Estate, London (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn 2016

Mein Bericht in der taz beinhaltete eigentlich viel mehr Besuche bei anderen Wohnsiedlungen. Ich war am Ende der Meinung, dass Broadwater Farm alles irgendwie zusammenfasst. Für jene, die etwas mehr lesen wollen, hier der Rest meiner Vorrecherchen:

    – Click here for an English translation of this page! –

Packington Estate in Islington.

Packington Estate 1

Auch hier gab es einst angeblich Sozialprobleme unter den etwa 540 Bewohnern. Tatsächlich lebten hier einige Familien, die in einen kriminellen Lebenstil gerutscht waren. Nachdem es im Jahr 2003 Probleme mit den Gasleitungen bekannt wurden, beschloss die Stadtautorität Islington, die Wohnungen an eine private Miet-und -Baugesellschaft zu verkaufen, damit diese sie dann neu aufbaut.

Anders als in einigen anderen Regionen, pochte man darauf, dass die meisten der vorherigen Sozialmieter hier weiter wohnen können.

Schlechter Bau, und Verbannung aus der Stadt!

Viele derer,die schon umgezogen sind, geben sich im großen und ganzen zufrieden, auch wenn das umziehen anstrengend und teilweise viel länger dauerte als man zuerst annahm. Georg Smith, 80 beschreibt seine neue Wohnung als schön. Er ist aber nicht der einzige, der darauf hinweist, dass die alten Wohnungen zwar kalt, aber solide gebaut waren. „Diese hier, sind nur kosmetisch gut! Ich bin mir sichere, dass man die in 20 Jahren wieder sanieren muss, die Wände sind dünn, wie sonst was, während die alten Wohnungen mit echten Ziegeln gebaut wurden.“ Eine andere Bewohnerin, Mutter dreier Kinder, die nicht genannt werden möchte, behauptet dass das Verfahren auch dazu ausgenutzt wurde, „Mieter die in der Vergangenheit schlecht aufgefallen waren, außerhalb der Stadtgrenze zu verbannen“. „Das ist weder fair, noch löst es die Probleme, die diese Menschen hatten“. Und wissen sie was“, fügt sie hinzu, „da hinten wohnen die Privaten. Gerade da wurde vor Wochen der Lift nach einer all zu heftigen Housewarmingparty zerstört. Wer ist hier also asozial“?, fragt sie.

Packington in Islington liegt in einer Gegend in der eine ein-Zimmer Wohnung inzwischen über um die eine Millionen Euro kosten kann. Von den hier gebauten privaten Wohnungen kann also groß Profit gemacht, und ähnlich wird es bald nicht weit vom neuen Glanzobjekt Nine Elms gehen auf der anderen Seite der Thamse im Südwesten gehen.

Wandsworth: Profit mit 40-stockwerken hohen Privatwohnungen gerade noch verhindert

Winstanley Estate 1

Hier im Südwesten Londons, dort wo Flugzeuge tief zum Anflug auf Heathrow sinken, liegt direkt an der Haltestelle Clapham Junction der Winstanley Estate. Auch hier stehen Wohnbauten aus den Sechziger Jahren. Die konservative Stadtautorität Wandsworth behält die Region schon lange im Auge zur „Regenierung“. Vor acht Jahren, konnten Anwohner noch den Bau zweier 40-stöckiger Wolkenkratzer für Privatwohnungen, verhindern. Doch auf der anderen Seite kann man schließlich mit dem Argument „maroder Gebäude und asozialer Menschen argumentieren“. Cyril Richert, 43 von der Clapham Junction Acton Group glaubt nach vielen Jahren des Kampfes, dass man gegen die konservativ gelenkte Stadtbehörde nicht ankomme. „Sie hören gar nicht mehr auf uns“ behauptet er. Somit sehen sie sich gezwungen mit Außenstehende zu reden, um so indirekt Druck auf Wandsworth zu machen. Sie verbuchten beispielsweise einen kleinen Sieg, als sich durch Lobbyarbeit beim Londoner Verkehrswesen TFL herausstellte, dass ein weiteres geplantes Hochhaus, mitten auf dem Gelände eines neuen geplanten Bahnhofsausgang stehen würde. Doch die nahezu vollkommene Zerstörung des Winstanley Estates, sagt Richert, lasse sich nicht mehr aufhalten.

Gutes Leben zwischen Mord und Häusern mit Garten.

Im Grunde sind nur drei achtstöckige lange Häuser unter den vielen verschiedenen Sozialwohnbauten in wirklich schlechten Zustand. Bewohner hier erzählen von schlechten Fenstern und Leitungen, aber auch von sehr guten Nachbarn. Viele andere Häuser hier sind nur zweistöckig, ja sie verfügen über eigene Gärten. Gewaltsame Auseinandersetzungen bei denen auch Waffen eingesetzt wurden, ja Mord, sind in der Region nicht unbekannt, jedoch, so bestätigen ein Dutzend befragter Bewohner keineswegs normaler Alltag. Es passierte das letzte Mal vor drei Jahren. Richtig schlimm sei es aber eher vor 15 Jahren gewesen, bevor man einfache Sicherheitsvorkehrungen wie Kameraüberwachung, sicherere Eingänge zu den Wohnungen einführte. Alle behaupten, dass die Gemeinschaft und das Leben hier gut sei. Das Gefühl des Unwohls, so beschrieben es auch Bewohner Broadwater Farms , „sei eher subjektiv, basiert auf Personen, die sich hier nur kurzfristig aufhalten, und welche die Leute hier nicht kennen“. Dementsprechend ist die Anzahl der Menschen, die von Thatchers Right to Buy, dem Recht seine Sozialwohnung zu kaufen, Gebrauch machten auf dem Winstanley Estate nicht minder. „Armutsfalle“?, fragt eine 30 jährige junge Frau erstaunt, als sie von Camerons Plänen 100 Sozialwohnbauten überall im Land zu bulldozern hört. „Ich bin hier aufgewachsen und zur Schule gegangen und bin heute Ärztin“. Ich würde das Leben hier es nicht idealisieren, mein Bruder wurde hier sogar mal für seine Geldbörse überfallen, aber viel schlimmer als anderswo in London ist es auch nicht“, meint sie.

Doch 102 Millionen Pfund für 100 Wohnungen, die Zahl die Cameron für die Gesamtsanierung der Wohnsiedlungen im ganzen Land locker legen will, sind herzlich wenig Geld. Es sei den, man macht Deals mit Bauunternehmen, die den Restbetrag durch den Verkauf privater Wohnungen ausgleichen. So befürchten viele, dass man Mieter vor die Türe stellt oder weit ab in entfernte und billigere Regionen unterbringen lässt. Bald wird auch hier, bis auf zwei bereits jetzt private Hochhäuser alles zu Boden gestampft werden, genau so wie damals in den 60ger Jahren, als die ehemals viktorianischen aus roten Ziegelstein gebauten Sozialwohnungen nicht mehr adäquat erschienen.

Gesicherte Tory Stimmen

Das ist vielleicht dann auch britische Tradition, den auch im East End und in Chelsea handelte man so im 19 Jahrhundert. Das ehemalige Hafenslum Chelsea ist inzwischen Hochburg der Superreichen, ja in manchen Vierteln liegt der Großteil der Sozialwohnungen Privateigentum. Das mag auch der Traum in Wandswoth sein, nicht weit von Winstanley entstehen überall lukrative Glasbauwüsten. Labours Tony Belton, der seit 40 Jahren oppositionelles Mitglied des Stadtrates für die Gegend um Winstaley Estate ist, sieht den ganzen Prozess als politisch bedingt. „Die Anzahl der Sozialwohnungen sei schließlich ausschlaggebend, ob eine Region eher konservativ oder Labour wählt“, behauptet er. Städte mit weniger Armen, mehr Privateigentum weit und breit und eine gesicherte Stimmen für die blaue Partei.

Winstanley Estate 5 Orofitraechtig, Schon jetzt macht ein Markler an der Haltestelle Werbung

 

London: Demolition of social housing flats causes anger.

Translation: Daniel Zylbersztajn: Abriss von Sozialwohnungen sorgt fuer Streit

originally published in German in Taz, die Tageszeitung, Tuesday, 16th February 2015

see www.taz.de/Sozialer-Wohnungsbau-in-London/!5274362/

(translation Daniel Zylbersztajn) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (taz.de 2016 / Daniel Zylbersztajn, 2016)

Great Britain: In the London area of Tottenham, a concrete social housing estate, erected in the 1960s, is to be demolished. They are supposed to be locations of social tension and drug dealing. The residents are scared of higher rents and being pushed out in the end.

Reporting from London, Daniel Zylbersztajn

In the centre of the estate with its many multi storey houses in Corbousier style, stands a playful concrete terrace block. The Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham, London, counts approximately 1100 housing units. Bad water pipes and some darker corners reveal that the concrete estate is worthy of an upgrade. A renovation should have been carried out years ago.

Broadwater Farm 4

Broadwater Farm, Courbusier Style at its best or worst.  Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn, 2016  All Rights Reserved

But rather than renovating the estate, it appears that it is going to be “bulldozed down.” Not just that, no body lesser than the Prime Minister David Cameron has taken charge of this task. The 1960s buildings “with their dark alleys would be,” in his words, “a present for criminals and drug dealers and a poverty trap.” Decisively he argues for the bulldozing of the houses and the erection of totally new houses.

Arguments of that kind are not exactly new on the British socio-political landscape. In the 1960s many Victorian social housing units were demolished with similar types of justifications. Earlier, in the 19th century, large chunks of the London East End were “>>sanitized<< “for the welfare of the poor.”

One of the long standing residents of Broadwater Farm is Clasford Sterling, 57. His mighty appearance and deep voice give him a natural flair of authority. “Broadwater Farm’s image is historically conditioned”, he argues, and continues, “that this has not much in common with the reality.”

Sterling, decorated with an OBE from the Queen, was born in Jamaica. Even back in the 1970s nobody would dare to bully him, he says. With football and pots full of colour, in order to rejuvenate some of the houses, he encouraged many of the young people on the estate, who had lost hope and direction, to take their lives back onto a positive path.

Oase Sozialwohnsiedlung. Mit Farbtoepfen brachte man hier orientierungslose Jugendliche zur Verantwortung.  Broadwater Farm 5

Broadwater Farm Mural. Young people freshened up the estate with pots of colour and became constructive. Now it is all to go. Photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2015 All Rights Reserved

In spite of this, the estate entered national headlines in 1985, when young people from across the area became entrapped on the estate,following a march against police brutality. The police cattled the youths in, which caused bitter fighting to emerge between police and the youth. The result was the brutal murder of a policeman.

It was only in the 1990s and under John Major’s government that the estate would receive a renewed injection of help, with 33 Million Pounds worth of investments. A community centre was built, the local primary school rebuilt, and later, thanks to lottery funding, the adjacent park completely renovated, offering a huge amount of leisure and sport facilities.

As a result the crime statistics of the area is below the London average for many years. Sterling reports, that the transformation is so remarkable, that he has received countless visits from national and international delegations. Broadwater Farm became known as the success story in terms of social estates that once experienced a rough time.

Admittedly, there are a few residents who are now in favour of the demolition of the concrete houses, but they are the minority. Most residents, especially those in the less fancy blocks, seem to be happy. In fact, quite a few have chosen to invest in them, and now own their flat as leaseholders. It was Margaret Thatcher who allowed the purchase of social housing units by social tenants.

In spite of this, Haringey the local council, intends to knock it all down. Even the smaller garden houses at the edges of the estate, as well as the school, are to go. If the council is able to sell the area to a property developer in a good deal, it may fix some of the holes, that the 30 percent austerity cuts from the national government has caused to their local budget. But the sell to such a developer would also have an extra bonus, by freeing the council from the burden of the administration of the estate.

Examples of this kind exist everywhere in London. On the Heygate Estate in the South-East of London 1200 real social housing units were replaced with but 300 new ones, after the old estate had been knocked down. The remainder was offered on the private market or on much higher rents up to 80 percent of market rate, known as “affordable housing.” Officially it was argued, that the well off residents would pull the less well off up. This so called >>win-win situation<< rarely set in however. With new and much more affluent neighbours most local prices in the area also rose.

This also worries people on Broadwater Farm Estate. They fear that sooner or later they would have to settle in regions far away from here and out of town. Facing such prospects, the community has decided to put up a fight to rescue the estate. The responsibility for the actual implementation of the sell off lies with the City Council of Haringey, a Labour borough, and it currently supports the measure wholeheartedly.

Lotteriegelder sanierten den Park mit vielen Freizeit und Sportmoeglichkeiten Broadwater Farm 6

Park Facilities, at Broadwater Farm

Sterling is unable to comprehend what on earth is supposed to be wrong with the estate. With a tired stare out of his office window, he insists that, “there is no good reason whatsoever, why this community should be destroyed. It is not criminally inclined, nor is it a poverty trap,” he says. The political winds of austerity rid Broadwater Farm of many of their former community workers. Sterling is now doing many of their jobs without pay and alone.

Broadwater Farm Clasford Sterling 3

Clasford Sterling in front of the Community Centre. Photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn, All Rights Reserved (c) 2016

END

For my report in taz, I also visited other estates. I felt that Broadwater Farm summarized what I found elsewhere. So above was the full published article. But for those, who like to read more background, here is the remainder of my research.

Packington Estate in Islington. Solutions for broken pipes and broken lives

There were supposed to be many social problems affecting the original 540 residents of the original 1960s Packington Estate. In deed some families were living an endless life of crime over several generations. When it emerged in 2003, that there were also problems with the gas pipes of the houses, the landlord, the city council of Islington, decided to sell the entire estate to a housing management company and developer, tasked with its rebuilding.

Packington Estate 1

Packington Estate Old and New. Photo, Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2016, All Rights Reserved

What is different on this particular estate, is that there was an insistence that the majority of the former residents should get rehoused here after the rebuilding had ended.

Bad Construction and Banned from town.

Many of those who already moved into new units, state that they are more or less happy, even though moving itself was a painful and difficult process, that lasted much longer than hoped and promised. Georg Smith, 80, argues that his new basement flat is rather beautiful. Still, he is not the only one, highlighting the fact, that the old units may have been chilly, but at the same time much were more solidly built than these new houses. “These are rather cosmetic”, he judges. “I am certain that they will have to be renovated again in 20 years, as the walls are totally thin, whilst the old houses were built of solid bricks.”

Another occupant, she is mother of three children, knows, that the schema was also used to rid the estate of >>bad families<<: “Residents who were known to be anti-social, were rehoused out of town,” she reports and adds “That is neither fair, nor does it solve the problems these people had,” But referring to the block with the private residents, she continues, that it would be the wealthy, who broke the lift recently, after a rather wild house warming party.

Packington Estate 3  Am Ende kann ich nicht klagen sagt George Smith, 80 vor seiner neuen Sozialwohnungsbleibebleibe1

George Smith, 80 is happy wit his new garden flat on Packington Estate, but says the new building won’t last long. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2016, All Rights Reserved

Packington Estate finds itself in an area of London, that once was poor and derelict, but where a studio flat today can cost up to 750.000 Pounds. Units that are sold on the open market are therefore very profitable. Every year the new estate takes longer to complete, the market price goes up by an average of ten percent. The developer is in no hurry, the completion already about five years overdue. Soon it will be like in the South-West of London, where property prices are sky rocket high.

South-West London: Wandsworth. Profit 40 storey high avoided!

South of London’s busiest train inter-junctions, Clapham Junction, lies the huge Winstanley Estate. It too has many social buildings erected in the 1960s and 1970s. For quite a while the local council has intended to profit from the location in the name of regeneration. Eight years ago, they intended to built two 40 storey-high private residential towers next to the station. Local residents up in arms about the proposals, were able to prevent it in a long and protracted campaign, aided by the financial melt-down. But Wandsworth continues to take up the argument of “rotten buildings and anti-social people.”

Winstanley Estate 3 Dieses Gebaude ist bereits zum Niederiss verbannt

Bad pipes but outstanding neighbours! Condemned to be knocked down on Winstanley Estate.  Photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn  (c) 2016, All Rights Reserved

After years of battle with the local government, Cyril Richert, 43, of the Clapham Junction Action Group, has lost any hope of being heard by the council. “They do not listen to us,” he notes. This forced him and others to seek allies from the outside, in order to indirectly put pressure on the council. Occasionally there are even little victories, like when the investigation of Transport for London and established, that yet another tower Wandsworth had planned, stood exactly where a future exit is to be. Still, Richert accepts, that the total destruction of Winstanley Estate South of the station can not be halted any longer.

Good Life between murder and garden-houses

If one looks closely, there are but three eight storey blocks on the massive estate, that are in a real bad way. Occupants talk of bad windows and pipes, and yet report many outstanding and trustworthy neighbours. Many of the other houses are two storey high, and many even have generous gardens. Violent crime, even murder are not unheard of though, and still not a daily occurrence. The last murder happened three years ago. All this is not as bad as it was over 15 years, when it was, people say, really rough. But security measures such as cameras, security operated doors, and fencing stopped most of that.

Winstanley Estate 1

Cameron and the local council  call this a sink estate. The residents were not asked, it seems. Photo, Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2016 All Rights Reserved

All claim, that the community spirit and life is good here. The feeling of it being a bad estate, residents say, is but a feeling by external visitors, who mostly do not know the estate and its people. That sounds very much like what Clasford Sterling said about Broadwater Farm. Accordingly high is the amount of people on Winstanley Estate who bought their own council flat. “Poverty Trap?”, asks a 30-year old lady, when she learns of Cameron’s arguments to knock down 100 of the worst estates, including this one. “I grew up and went to school here, and today I am a medical doctor.” She adds, that it would be wrong to idealise life here, even her brother was mugged here not so long ago, “but it isn’t much worse than elsewhere in London,” she insists.

At the same time the 102 Million Pounds that Cameron wishes to spend to enable renovations on 100 estates are not much money at all, unless one makes deals with property developers.

Secure Tory Votes

In parts of Chelsea and Kensington the majority of councils homes these days are private property, courtesy of Margaret Thatcher’s >>Right to Buy << schema. That appears to be the dream of Wandsworth too. Winstanley is not that far from lucrative regions such as Nine Elms or the stretch along the Thames. The station itself is a good selling point. Tony Belton, councillor of the Labour Party for over 40 years and representing Winstanley, believes it is all but a political game. “The amount of social housing units relate directly to how many people will vote Labour or Conservative,” he explains. Cities with less poor and more private properties ensure secure votes for the blue party, so he believes.

Winstanley Estate 5 Orofitraechtig, Schon jetzt macht ein Markler an der Haltestelle Werbung

Too profitable to leave poor people here. Winstanley Estate as seen from Clapham Junction Station. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2016 All Rights Reserved