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Municipal Dreams: "The Pendleton Estate:: 'A Salford of the Space Age' or 'Concrete Wasteland'?"

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"This was the era – a brief one, in fact – in which high-rise took off. A few years earlier, back in 1956, only 6 per cent of homes nationally had been provided in flats of over five storeys. Ten years later, as the new Pendleton took shape, that proportion had risen to (and peaked at) 26 per cent. Avoiding the obloquy that hindsight has visited on such high-rise construction, there seemed, at the time, many compelling reasons for this shift.

"The mass slum clearances of the period and the apparent requirement to build replacement housing at density in inner-city areas, compounded by new restrictions on greenfield construction and dislike of sprawling suburban estates, provided one causal bundle. Salford, like many other inner-city authorities, also resented losing population and rateable income to beyond-border overspill.

"There were less tangible but equally potent ideological currents too – a new concern for urbanism and a sense that high-rise represented the future, modernity in a new Britain sloughing off the obsolescence which seemingly characterised so much of its housing and townscapes. The Report on the Plan claimed that the scheme represented ‘an unparalleled opportunity for Salford to think today what other cities would think tomorrow’.

"In the end, the judgments of tomorrow would be far less positive, but that's to jump ahead. The Ellor Street redevelopment almost uniquely captures many of the hopes and ambitions of the period."

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