HomeThe house famine and how to relieve itPagina 21

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The local authority may purchase the lands on which any
obstructive building has been demolished. Compensation to be
settled by an arbitraior appointed by the Local Government Board
upon somewhat similar terms to those laid down by the purchase
clause in Part I. (Sec. 41), with the addition that the arbitrator is to
have regard to any increase in value given to other property of the
same owner by the operation of the Scheme.
Most of the money spent by local authorities up to now has been
spent in thus compensating slum-owners, and forcing up the market
value of bad property by diminishing the supply, without carrying
out to the full extent the necessary powers for rebuilding. The
money cost of continuing this policy will be ruinous both to the
ratepayers, and to the working classes who reside in such areas,
although the improvement effected in the health of the community
thereby is often undeniably great. For example, the cost of clearing
the Boundary Street Area in Bethnal Green was about £3oo per
family, and in Somers Town £5oo per family, before a single new
dwelling had been constructed. At Wolverhampton the cost of
clearance schemes has involved a rate of gàd. in the £, and at
Swansea the net cost amounts to £3,229 per annum. Fresh legisla-
tion is needed to compel the owners of slum areas to bear the cost of
reconstruction in the same way that they would have to share
between them the cost of a common drain reinstated by the local
authority, or a private street reconstructed under the Private Street
Works Act, 1892.
Instead of getting a capital sum in cash for their demolished
property they should receive each year pro ram a part of the net
income derived from the new dwellings erected on the old slum area,
after the local authority had been recouped their annual charges in
respect of the capital outlay on the work of pulling down and re-
building.
Pending fresh legislature schemes under Parts I. and II. should
be dropped unless provision can be made cheaply at the same
time to erect at least as many new houses as are to be pulled
down. _ .
It may be desirable, however, in this connection to suggest that
Local Authorities wishing to rehouse in populous areas should
endeavour to purchase and adapt existing middle­class dwellings in
the neighbourhood so as to convert them into separate and sanitary
tenements for the working classes. ‘ .
, In other words surplus middle­class houses might be utilised by
I Local Authorities without hardship to those displaced, and at a l
I great saving to the rates, to supply the deliciency in adjacent working
I class neighbourhoods. Such converted buildings could be made into ï‘
K tenements far superior to those now occupied by the majority of t
London workmen, and at a far less expense than if new buildings
were put up under present conditions as to the price of bricks and
other materials, while rehousing many workmen who must live near i
their work.
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