Dear Editor, (Re: Policy Exchange Report on Social Housing). The Bournville estates in Birmingham are rightly regarded as one of the triumphs of mid-20th century urban planning.
George Cadbury’s dream was to have his managers and workers living on the same streets with owner-occupied next to rented property of the same quality in probably one of the first successful experiments in mixed tenure in the country.
The Bournville Village Trust (BVT) keeps that legacy alive through excellent housing and estate management and regulatory system which all Bournville residents have to buy into whether living owner-occupied or rented property.
Property prices in Bournville pack a premium in some cases up to £100,000 above similar sized property in adjacent areas and new developments on adjacent sites ape the Bournville design and lay out to cash in on that premium.
In Birmingham it is a standing joke that estate agents will advertise properties up to two miles away from the boundaries of Bournville as being “near to BVT” to up house prices
So Housing Minister Grant Shapps and his pals in Policy Exchange would laud the Trust if it decided to sell off its obviously valuable social housing, and build new rented properties in social housing ghettos elsewhere in the city, thus destroying George Cadbury’s dream.
Fortunately Bournville Village Trust will zealously guard his legacy from these philistines. Policy Exchange’s document and Shapp’s response are probably the best illustration to date of this government’s subliminal mantra “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
Richard Trengrouse, Bournville