Is Demolition Ever the Best Way to Regenerate?

6th October 2014 by ProDEM

Rising house prices, a lack of affordable housing and diminishing social housing stock are all strong imperatives to increase the number of dwellings available, particularly for low income families and in areas of intense housing pressure. Given these factors, the current trend for demolishing many high rise developments with a large number of socially rented units to make way for less dense, modern housing mainly for affluent private sector consumption appears baffling; disturbingly this is exactly what is happening to the Heygate estate in London and many others across the country.


The arguments for wholesale demolition as opposed to refurbishment and selective, small scale redevelopment (an approach sometimes known as “pruning and re-growing”) are complex and multi-faceted. Local residents, developers, local authorities and central government all have conflicting agendas which can make finding a mutually beneficial solution to the problems of a rundown estate difficult to achieve.

Demolition enables developers to offer a rapid, highly visible response to the problem of dilapidated buildings and can often provide significant revenue to cash-strapped local authorities in return for land on which to develop.

Projected numbers of affordable housing units can be significantly downgraded once regeneration projects have commenced (in Heygate the proposed numbers have been retrospectively reduced from 35% to 25% of the total number of dwellings due to financial difficulties). Often developers will agree to redevelop nearby shopping centres and other public space; the replacement facilities usually have higher business rates.

There is now a convincing body of evidence which suggests that small scale, consistent positive changes over a longer period of time are the best way to achieve regeneration in its broadest sense. Investing in adequate levels of maintenance and a planned refurbishment programme can be a cost-effective option for updating neglected housing. If carefully phased, disruption to local residents can be both minimal and manageable.


Grassroots change is often gradual and low key, with pruning and re-growing lacking the same short term impact as (to continue the analogy) clearing and re-planting. Some would also cynically argue that it doesn’t provide the hefty financial benefits to public sector agencies and developers that the demolition alternative can provide.

Any demolition work must be carried out by a professional team to ensure complete safety. As one of the leading demolition contractors serving throughout Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and the Midlands areas, here at Prodem we offer premium quality demolition services for highly competitive prices. Our wealth of experience in the industry means we have the necessary knowledge and skills to undertake all projects with the highest standards of care and efficiency. For further information, don’t hesitate to give us a call or contact us online today!