Breaking up communities'?


Resource authors: Rebecca Tunstall and Stuart Lowe

15% of all homes present in metropolitan areas in England in 1955 had been demolished by 1985, as a result of slum clearance and urban redevelopment. Despite the significance of housing demolition in late twentieth century lives and cities, a literature review using systematic methods found a narrow evidence base on its social impact. Many sources were methodologically weak, and most did not offer before-and-after insights into resident experiences. One widespread academic and popular summative assessment is that housing demolition ‘broke up communities’ in ways that community members regretted, and was responsible for some of the most profound changes in the nature of ‘community’ in the twentieth century. However, existing evidence is not strong enough to support this argument with confidence. Available evidence suggests that for many households movement was partly chosen; new homes and areas were not distant, and were often preferred. For many, old social networks were maintained or new social networks were preferred.

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