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pounds 8m lost on Welsh streets after buy-up; Drop in value of homes.

Byline: MARC WADDINGTON

MORE than pounds 8m of taxpayers' cash used to buy derelict homes in Liverpool's Welsh Streets has been wiped off their value since they were left to rot.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the value of the 335 houses in the Welsh Streets was pounds 17.6m when they were acquired by the council.

Now they are worth only around pounds 9.5m. But going by the prices the council has charged developers for land in other housing market renewal areas of the city, the land could be sold for as little as pounds 300,000.

In the Kirkdale area of the city, land to build around 50 homes was sold for pounds 52,000 - as little as pounds 1,000 a plot for houses that could be sold for upwards of pounds 70,000 to either private owners or housing associations.

A spokesman for MY Welsh Streets developer Gleeson refused to disclose how much it was paying for the land.

Leading anti-demolition campaigners said the figures showed the long, drawn-out process of knocking houses down rather than refurbishing them was flawed and of little value for money for the taxpayer.

But the council argued improving the existing houses rather than knocking them down was unappealing to developers when there was "a significant chance they will not get a return on their investment".

David Ireland, chief executive of the Empty Homes Agency, said theWelsh Streets money could have been better spent on refurbishment.

In Madryn Street alone, the value of the 55 houses on acquisition was pounds 2.8m. By the end of the last financial year, the value dropped by pounds 1.16m.

Ringo Starr's former home at number nine is still owned by Merseytravel, but the two neighbouring propertieswere acquired in 2007 for pounds 42,000 and pounds 40,00 respectively. By March 2010, their value had slumped to pounds 29,925 apiece.

A council spokesman said: "The total value now reflects not only current market conditions, but also the condition of the properties, many of which have been stripped for demolition.

"Local people have told us they want a greater choice of types of properties to live in. Merely improving the existing houses would be costly and would not solve this problem."

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 18, 2011
Words:389
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