Save Druids Heath
Residents fight council plans to rebuild their homes that ignore their community.
Photo: Druids Heath and Monyhull Forum
Druids Heath is one of the most deprived areas in Birmingham. It has suffered, in the words of one of its residents, “deliberate decline” due to decades of underinvestment regionally and nationally. But it is home to a strong and diverse community which provides essential support networks, friendships and stability to any resident who needs it.
Now this is threatened. The council estate was built in the 1960s and needs repair and renovation. Instead it is getting regeneration: 11 towers of 50 homes each will be demolished, and replaced with a mix of private and social housing. Residents say hundreds of units of social housing will be lost, as well as their community, their friendships, and the place they and their children call home. Some have been there since it was built.
Residents have organised to oppose the council’s regeneration, with support from organisers at the New Economics Foundation. Tenants want their own, community-led regeneration which allows them to stay in the area, provides sustainable housing built for their needs, avoids gentrification, and builds on the current number of social homes rather than scaling back. They have so far won the right to return to equal or better properties after the regeneration is complete, and are continuing to fight for their other demands.
Resident and community worker Anne-Marie Alder told Birmingham Mail: “They are going to destroy this community. They are demolishing far more properties than they are building. I don’t think they realise the impact and the community connections there are.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Create a Land Development Corporation
A corporation with the power to purchase, develop and sell land can ensure it is managed in the public interest.
Roll out universal basic services
Quality public services allow us all to live better lives, and should be expanded beyond health and education.
Tax unfair landowner gains
Redistribute unfair gains which landowners derive through public investment and land value increases.
Expand democratic public ownership
New models of public ownership ensure control by users, workers and communities.
Create a Common Ground Trust
Buying land from underneath houses and leasing it to members will expand the number of people ready to buy a house.
Start an English Land Commission
Commission will design a strategy for a fairer, more inclusive system of land and land ownership.
Introduce an NHS land community-lock
Any land asset sold by the NHS through choice, necessity or obligation should be used for community benefit.
Insulate and solarise our homes
UK homes are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe. We can reduce emissions and fuel poverty.
Close the viability loophole
Stop private developers from evading affordable housing requirements.
Create a Public Land Bank
End the fire sale public land and instead use surplus land to form the basis for a Public Land Bank.