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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, November 30, 2008
    Obsolete and unsuitable for modern living
    Obsolete and unsuitable for modern living. What: the room behind the inn? No. Terraced housing, according to researchers into 'housing market change' in the M62 corridor. Chris Allen, whose Housing Market Renewal and Social Class is among the most impressive I read in 2008 - or for a long time - says that
    The authors of this report argued that terrace housing had become 'obsolete' and 'unsuitable for modern living', especially for 'contemporary flexible service sector households' (I think that means the middle class). They also seemed to think that the neighbourhoods in which many of these dwellings are located are 'dysfunctional' becuse they have too many working class people and not enough middle class people - that sort of thing. Mr Nevin and his colleagues concluded from their research that these terrace houses - that are so 'obsolete', 'outdated', 'unwanted' and 'unsuitable for modern living' - need to be demolished and replaced with 'high value' products that 'contemporary' households wanted.
    Allen's work demonstrates the hollowness of such rhetoric. Hollow - but highly manipulative. I've blogged about his book before. Now, on Advent Sunday, news that he's decided to make a new start: no, not repent of his unacceptable behaviour in the liberal academy, rather he's decided to move to a terraced house in Liverpool and to start a blog describing life there. It's called myobsoleteterracehouse.blogspot.com. So in a while we'll find out whether he has to admit that terraces are after all 'obsolete and unsuitable for modern living'. Or whether, as is the case for most of us who are happy to trade off listening to next door's occasional rows for the security of being physically attached to attentive neighbours, terraces are quite ok, thanks.