RESIDENTIAL ENVIRONMENTS IN BRITISH CITIES

OLD INNER CITY AREA

HOUSING (AGE/TYPE, OWNERSHIP/APPEARANCE)
1. The zone between CBD and suburbs
2. Grew during industrial revolution.
3. Factories built on edges of historic towns, mostly alongside rivers, canals or roadways.
4. High density terraced, 2 up 2 down back-to-back houses built to accommodate workers moving from the countryside.
5. Today, many have been enlarged by extensions to provide bathroom and kitchens.
6. Factory owners and wealthy business people also lived in the more desirable areas of the inner city - but in larger 3/4 storey terraces including basements and attic rooms where the servants would live.
ROAD PATTERN
1. Built in long straight rows/parallel roads.
2. Grid layout, narrow roads and pavements.
3. No gardens or garages - on street parking.
LAND-USE
1. Most of the land is used for housing.
2. Houses built around and in-between factories.
AMENITIES (HOUSEHOLD/NEIGHBOURHOOD)
1. Housing cheap, often poor quality, quickly built; no proper kitchens, bathrooms or central heating (outside toilet).
2. Local services catered for the needs of the people, including corner shops, schools, public houses, churches, libraries and parks.
ADAVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Cheap to acquire.
2. Available for rent - accessible for immigrants/the low paid or unemployed.
3. Some areas improved substantially/large profits made in last 30 years - gentrification).
4. Near to city centre - places of employment, shops, entertainment and leisure.
5. Developed a strong sense of community (doors open directly onto streets).
DISADVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Old, decaying houses.
2. Surrounded by derelict land when traditional industries declined and factories closed (sunset industry e.g. steel, shipbuilding).
3. High levels of graffiti and vandalism.
4. Traffic congestion - problems of "rat- runs" - danger on roads.
5. Lack of open space.
6. Above average concentration of pensioners, lone-parents, ethnic minorities and students - poverty/low income levels, unemployment (often above 50% for males).
7. High levels of disease, illness and over-crowding.
8. Rising crime rates, poor police and community relations; riots in 1980's - Brixton (London), Toxteth (Liverpool) and Handsworth (Birmingham).

INNER CITY REDEVELOPED AREAS

HOUSING (AGE/TYPE, OWNERSHIP/APPEARANCE
1. High rise flats, maisonettes and semi-detached houses built in 1960's by local authorities to re-house people from the demolished terraces (an example of urban redevelopment or regeneration).
2. New houses/flats housed people at a lower density, the overspill population moved to newly built (and often large) outer-city council estates e.g. Castle Vale.
3. More recent modern houses built by private builders in varied styles, sizes and prices.
4. Some are aimed at first time buyers "starter homes", while "executive" apartments have been built in prestigious locations ( e.g. river/canal sides - Canary Wharf in London and Brindley Place in Birmingham) in an attempt to diversify the social structure of the inner city.
5. In the 1970's the "knock it all down and start again" approach was abandoned, many cities had gradually become empty (roads, shops, offices replacing houses as the CBD and infrastructure expanded) developing a "dead heart". Instead existing buildings were improved with tenements being combined to provide bathrooms, kitchens, more bedrooms, double glazing, new roofs, cavity wall insulation , central heating and were re-wired throughout. A process of renovation called urban renewal.
ROAD PATTERN
1. Ring roads kept traffic away from the houses, cul-de sacs and garages were constructed.
2. Roads were curved.
LAND-USE
1. Large areas of open space were created around tower blocks - communal.
2. Industrial estates were built away from housing areas with access to main roads (found difficulty attracting businesses).
AMENITIES (HOUSEHOLD/NEIGHBOURHOOD)
1. Areas for worship were built along with shops, play areas (quickly vandalised), new schools, public houses, sports facilities.
2. Modern facilities were included in the new developments/renovation schemes (see above).
3. Quality of materials used in the tower blocks meant that they were cold, poorly insulated and prone to condensation. In the Gorbals area of Glasgow two tower blocks were renovated to produce Japanese pagoda-style roofs in blue aluminium with blue and grey panelling bolted on top of the concrete (cheaper than the cost of building 112 new homes from scratch).
ADAVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Tower blocks were cheaper to build and therefore rent. Save valuable space for other uses e.g. roads, office and shop developments.
2. Near to city centre - places of work/shops/entertainment/leisure.
3. People stayed in the area they grew up in.
4. Better amenities than original houses.
DISADVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Inhuman conditions gave a lack of neighbourliness - elderly felt trapped (muggings in dark passageways).
2. Lack of play areas and amenities for youngsters.
3. Poor quality of the buildings - one tower block in London (Ronan Point) actually collapsed.
4. Areas still had a high density of population and above average levels of poverty and unemployment

SUBURBS

HOUSING (AGE/TYPE, OWNERSHIP/APPEARANCE)
1. Cities expanded as rural-urban migration continued and the death rate fell leading to a natural population increase.
2. Development of mass transport systems - trams, buses and commuter trains.
3. Inter-war housing typically consisted of semi-detached houses with bay windows, few had garages (car ownership was unusual), front and back gardens. Some of the housing was in estates, some on main roads as examples of ribbon development.
4. More recent housing has a greater variety of styles and designs. Some large private estates have been built (e.g. Longbridge), while smaller patches of land have been used for in-fill housing.
5. The 1990's saw an increase in the building of expensive (£250 000 +) executive-type housing. These estates are well-planned, spacious and less uniform in their layout.
6. The inter war period saw the massive urban sprawl which led to a loss of countryside and eventually the creation of green belts after World War Two.
ROAD PATTERN
More varied patterns, cul-de sacs used to reduce exits for thieves and to increase community development.
LAND-USE
1. Most of the land given over to houses with local shopping precincts/high streets on the
arterial main roads e,g, Kings Heath in Birmingham.
AMENITIES (HOUSEHOLD/NEIGHBOURHOOD
2. Houses were built with modern amenities - double glazed, burglar alarms, studies/utility
3. rooms, garages and gardens.
4. Connections for dishwashers, washing machines, en-suite bedrooms were built in the later developments.
5. Parks, schools and sport amenities were built e.g. Golf Courses, Leisure Centres, Swimming Pools.
ADAVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Larger (lower cost of land) and better quality houses, garages built at lower density.
2. Best performing schools are located in the "outer rim".
3. Less traffic congestion and pollution than the inner city.
4. Closer to the countryside.
5. Close enough to the CBD to commute by car or train. Access to the national motorway system.
DISADVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Long commuting travel times with attendant dangers on the road - risk of accidents and being late for work.
2. Higher costs of journey to work.
3. High cost of housing (negative equity in the late 80's/early 90's as house prices fell).
4. Sense of community is diminished as people spend little time at home, separated by fences and hedges.
5. Distance from CBD for shopping and leisure/entertainment.
6. Rising number of burglaries.

OUTER CITY COUNCIL ESTATES

HOUSING (AGE/TYPE, OWNERSHIP/APPEARANCE)
1. In the 1960's council houses were built on the fringes of the suburbs (to receive overspill population from inner cities/cope with natural population increase).
2. More varied size and type of accommodation was constructed with single storey terraces, 2/3 storey maisonettes , high rise blocks and often had free-standing garages and more communal open space e.g. in Castle Vale.
ROAD PATTERN
1. Varied patterns, often geometrically shaped.
2. Industrial estates/factories separated from houses.
LAND-USE
1. Most of the land is given over to houses.
2. Local shopping precincts were built together with leisure centres, public houses, clinics, schools, parks and libraries.
AMENITIES (HOUSEHOLD/NEIGHBOURHOOD)
1. Houses built with modern amenities (bathrooms and separate kitchens), garages, gardens and communal open spaces.
2. Local shopping precincts, public houses, libraries and schools catered for the residents
ADAVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Modern amenities (bathrooms, kitchens, garages).
2. Less pollution, congestion.
3. Closer to the countryside.
DISADVANTAGES OF LIVING HERE
1. Insufficient, local jobs were provided/attracted.
2. Long distance from the CBD (the main source of employment/shopping, entertainment).
3. Lack of amenities for young children and teenagers.

M Roden (26/1/02)