60-year-old Elizabeth Pascoe has won her court battle to stop English Partnership taking a wrecking ball to her home under the Government's 'Pathfinder' housing scheme. She managed to persuade a judge that demolishing the place you live in is an infringement of your human rights. Well yes, you'd think so, wouldn't you?
EP failed to convince the High Court that the area where Mrs Pascoe lived - in Liverpool's Edge Lane West - was "under used or ineffectively used" and therefore ruled its compulsory purchase order illegal.
It seems that the developers, who I think we are supposed to call 'market renewal pathfinders', are all of a panic that this may curtail their 'right' to bulldoze people's homes in order to 'regenerate' an area.
'Regeneration' is one of those words which sounds like a politically-neutral Good thing. But in reality, there are two sorts of regeneration. The sort that feathers the nests of banks and building corporations by sweeping away working-class housing and replacing it with posh flats and showpiece facilities. And the sort where your run-down estate gets done up, your homes improved, and facilities provided that you and your neighbours actually want and need. The first type is what the capitalist market wants and the New Labour Government is pushing; the second you have to fight for. So well done to Mrs Pascoe for fighting and winning. It remains to be seen whether her community will now be "truly regenerated" as she and her neighbours have demanded.
This blog has previously cautioned against getting carried away with the occasional court ruling that manages to buck the trend and back working-class people. Even on the basis of this ruling, any future judge only has to agree that the land in your area is "under used or ineffectively used" (eg. the landlord has left part of it as a wasteground, or you live in a row of houses with gardens where a 18-storey tower block could be built) for the demolition order to stand. Or Their Honour could decide that your human rights are being preserved by the council rehousing you ten miles down the road away from all your friends and family. You're still better off relying on your own campaigning to win.
But you never know - this ruling could slow down the bulldozers, give working-class communities the confidence to stand up for themselves, and even make Hackney Council rethink its plan for 'partial demolition and infill' on dozens of Hackney estates. Don't hold your breath, though.