Maryhill Locks Social Housing Deficit

‘Transformational Regeneration Areas’ abandon social housing

The land around Maryhill Locks has long attracted property developers. The Maryhill Locks regeneration Masterplan, which includes the Botany (‘The Butney’) and the Valley, was approved in 2008, and the first phase of 35 homes at the Botany was completed in 2010. Now, as part of the so-called Maryhill Transformational Regeneration Area (TRA),Maryhill Locks is set for a £15 million ‘regeneration’ programme with a “long-term goal” of 800 new homes. The Maryhill Locks TRA is one of three piloted TRA areas out of a total of eight in Glasgow.

Lib-Dem Councillor, Alex Dingwall, sent a newsletter through local letterboxes this summer expressing his pleasure at the development. He noted the shortage of social rented homes locally, so he was “delighted” to see around 100 new Housing Association properties being built. But wait a minute! With representatives from three local Housing Associations and the Maryhill LHO on the Local Delivery Group (charged with the delivery of the Maryhill TRA), surely 100 social rented homes out of a total 800 homes is a measly return?

The Maryhill Locks scheme is in many ways typical of new ‘mixed-development’ schemes. The idea is allegedly that private development ‘unlocks’ money for social housing. But what we really end up with is less social housing. With Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) committed to demolishing 30,000 of its homes, we are now seeing the replacement of that figure with more and more private homes, reducing the overall amount of social housing drastically. The crush on social housing supply keeps the private property market going, while ‘mixed-communities’ like the Locks raise prices through gentrification, and make the crush on “affordable” housing even more extreme.

The citywide TRA scheme is the brainchild of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) and the Scottish Government. A key element of the scheme was to persuade Scottish Ministers to ‘waive’ the “stock transfer clawback arrangement”, allowing any profits generated through private sector activity to be “recycled” into all eight regeneration areas. But the “clawback” arrangement ensured that income generated by the GHA from formerly council-owned land, could be “clawed-back” into public coffers. ‘Waiving’ this arrangement effectively amounts to a £100m million subsidy for the private sector to continue building and selling private and shared equity homes.

How do the figures stack up? Development and Regeneration Services figures show that the aggregate housing element involved in the eight TRA’s is 11,000 GHA demolitions, 6,000 Private Sector new build, and 3,000 Social Rented new build. That means Glasgow overall loses 8,000 Social Rented homes! Some transformation!

It’s about time we accepted that ‘regeneration’ is little more than “sugar-coated” gentrification – raising rents, privatizing everything, displacing the poor, and catering to middle-class taste. A recent report by the National Housing Federation confirms this viewpoint, predicting the UK housing market, already overheated, will soon be plunged into an unprecedented crisis with, “steep rises in the private rental sector, huge social housing waiting lists, and a house price boom – all fuelled by a chronic under-supply of homes”.

The need for strong independent tenants and residents networks to fight our corner becomes more obvious everyday.

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