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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 17:57 GMT
Row over 'historic' houses demolition
Terraced houses
Some residents are trying to save the houses
The fate of hundreds of terraced houses in Lancashire is being decided at a public inquiry.

Pendle Borough Council has proposed the compulsory purchase of 400 terrace houses at Whitefield, in Nelson, Lancashire, claiming they are not fit to live in.

Campaigners, backed by English Heritage, claim the houses are of enormous historical and architectural importance.

English Heritage will give evidence at the two-week public inquiry concerning 160 of the terrace homes which began on Tuesday.

Surveys of the housing show a very high level of unfitness and disrepair

Pendle Borough Council statement

Henry Owen-John, English Heritage's assistant regional director, said: "These properties are of considerable historical and architectural significance.

"Ninety per cent of the homes were occupied but since the council put forward its proposals more than a year ago, there is now only 50% occupancy. Many people have sold up and got out.

"We suggest there is an alternative scheme following consultation with the local community which will meet its needs and not destroy the historic character of the area.

"We appointed a firm of independent chartered surveyors who found, from a sample of 25% of the homes, that none of them were unfit to live in and they were capable of being refurbished."

In a statement, Pendle Borough Council dismissed English Heritage's claims as "astonishing" and said the houses in Nelson were not "special and unique".

Repair plan

They said the terraced houses are no different to others built in the late 19th century in northern England.

The council said the decision to clear part of Nelson was taken after consultation with residents.

The statement said: "The council intends to repair, improve or preserve the vast majority of the homes in the Renewal Area.

"Surveys of the housing show a very high level of unfitness and disrepair.

'Astonishing' claim

"It is astonishing that English Heritage is arguing that none of the houses in the clearance area are unfit.

"The area has some of the worst housing in the country."

Razza Hussain, secretary of the Whitefield Conservation Action Group, said: "The area is portrayed by the council as a slum.

"It's not - it's our home. It's a nice, quiet area to live with a close-knit community.

"There are alternatives to the council's proposals."

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30 Oct 00 | UK
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