«Mixed Messages on Mixed incoMes Volume 15, Number 2 • 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and ...»
One socioeconomic development officer, one chair of a community organization, and one architect were also interviewed. The interviews were equally balanced among the three estates, 11 interviewees were male and 6 female, and the response rate was 84 percent. The semistructured interviews lasted 45 to 60 minutes, were digitally recorded, and were professionally transcribed before being thematically analyzed. The first part of the interview concerned previous conditions on the estate and the history of its redevelopment. The second part of the interview concerned the operation and contribution of tenure mix and the improvements still required on the estates.
Findings In this section, we present the findings from our interviews with policymakers and practitioners pertaining to each of the five main elements of planning orthodoxy around mixed-tenure communities.
Housing and the Environment In the case of all three estates, physical improvements were emphasized as one of the main achievements of the past two decades, but this achievement was attributed to several factors, not solely tenure mix. The two peripheral estates saw many of the 1950s tenements improved, others demolished, and houses with front and back doors developed, both by social landlords and private developers.
The role of design in environmental improvement was stressed, particularly in the case of New Gorbals but was also mentioned to a lesser degree in the case of Castlemilk.
Also, as might be expected, improved maintenance of housing and its surroundings was identified, although this improvement was attributed not so much to tenure mix as conventionally understood.
Rather, it was attributed to diversification of ownership of the social housing stock on the estates and the localization of management that came with it.
This tenure diversification was linked to improved maintenance through the operation of competitive behaviors among landlords, landlords’ desire to protect their recent investment in the housing stock, and their use of behavioral contracts with tenants. Reference was also made, however, to the effects of housing improvements and the good neighbor effect of having owners around to influence others.
Social Change Social change was considered insufficient in all three areas, with interviewees describing persistent poverty and deprivation, social fragility, and a set of behavioral problems. These issues were identified most readily, but not exclusively, by teachers.
The interviewees shared a common view that tenure mixing within council estates could not be expected to shift social problems or alter communities on its own.
The community as a whole being improved, simply by tenure diversification? Never seen that happening anywhere, including Drumchapel. … A sprinkling of homeowners doesn’t really affect the chronic unemployment and the deprivation.
—Socioeconomic development officer, Drumchapel Social change was described more in the case of New Gorbals than in the case of the two peripheral estates, with an influx of young professionals since redevelopment partly because of the types of properties for sale (of the right size and price), but also because of the area’s location near the city center.
Economic Impacts Economic compositional changes within the areas are evident, in that owner-occupied houses are now on the estates. Practitioners were uncertain, however, about whether these changes were affecting the local economy through greater local expenditures.
As previously noted, the estates are still considered deprived, and persistent unemployment was referred to in the interviews. There was little talk of change at a household level.
In relation to employment, rather than talking about the effects of employed, owner-occupier residents on their neighbors (for example, through raising aspirations or through informational or job networks), interviewees spoke about the need to develop the local economic base in and around the estates to provide job opportunities and to overcome poor transport connections. In respect to the two peripheral estates, the general view was that these things had not been achieved sufficiently.
It’s bus services from Castlemilk; whilst there, those bus services are reasonably well connected if you’re coming into the city. To cross the area, at all, is virtually impossible. … If you take recent employment opportunities in places like Silverburn, where there was a new retail development, … it was hugely difficult for people to pick up employment in somewhere like Silverburn, simply because of the transport infrastructure.
—Regeneration officer, Castlemilk When economic impacts were discussed, the discussion related to improved local amenities, especially for the peripheral estates, such as new high schools, supermarkets, leisure and sports facilities, and family centers, among other things. These improvements were attributed to tenure mix for two reasons: (1) selling land to developers, or striking planning-gain deals, provided the resources for facilities; and (2) the development of tenure mix provided confidence within the public sector for investment in the areas.
In Drumchapel’s case, it was nevertheless held that despite the new school and new leisure center, and the existence of a master plan for improving the town center, amenities were still very poor.
Sustainable Communities In all three cases, interviewees considered the creation of a viable housing market in the area as a success, reflecting both the confidence in the area and the quality of housing provided.
Owner occupation was seen as having provided stability to the estates, either as an innate characteristic of the tenure or as a result of providing greater housing opportunities for locals.
Owner occupation was not necessarily seen as making the estates self-sustainable or self-managing, however. The estates were viewed as still requiring more attention and ongoing maintenance than many other areas.
In the case of all three estates, issues of local control were raised with regard to the question of sustainability. For the two peripheral estates, the absence of estate-level management was considered an obstacle.
A different issue of control, indirectly stemming from the switch to mixed tenure, was identified in the case of New Gorbals, so that stability was not discussed to the same degree in this area.
Much of the private housing had changed tenure from owner occupation to private renting, over which the community could not exercise control. The expansion of private renting was seen to cause problems of antisocial behavior, lack of commitment to the area, and unfamiliarity with one’s neighbors, resulting in local frustration with the situation.
Interviewees talked about how visitors to the estates and service providers such as taxi drivers often remarked on how much the areas had changed and improved, but in the case of both Drumchapel and New Gorbals, a view remained that the negative reputations of the areas had not been shifted and that many potential residents did not consider them suitable places to bring up children.
Sociospatial Integration The two peripheral estates suffered from a longstanding problem of parochialism, which interviewees thought had been exacerbated by the way in which tenure diversification (including mixed tenure) had been implemented. It was still thought to be the case that social-sector tenants living on the estates were reluctant to move elsewhere or to go elsewhere for jobs or training. The fact that a significant proportion of the owner-occupied housing was bought by people with a local connection had not helped to change the outlook of the estate residents.
Tenure diversification within the socially rented sector, through the splitting up of the council housing stock into local housing associations, likewise may have solidified or exacerbated issues of local identity.
In Castlemilk and Drumchapel, unlike in New Gorbals, the two main tenures are visually and spatially distinct, mostly existing in separate pockets of development in certain parts of the estates.
In New Gorbals, where the housing tenures were much more spatially integrated, difficulties of generating social interaction were still reported, again attributed to the localized nature of the development and its separate identity.
Low levels of social integration in New Gorbals, however, were also seen to be a product of the fact that the owner-occupied housing was predominantly lived in by nonfamily households.
Discussion and Conclusion From the practitioners’ accounts of change, we know that they identify advances for all three estates during the past 20 years. We can also see that they realize that many components of the mixedtenure orthodoxy have not been achieved, and some of them clearly have not been attempted. In this section, we identify a number of possible reasons why this might be the case.
There has been a selective emphasis within the attempt to transform these neighborhoods, with a predominant focus on housing and physical changes, including housing-quality improvements and housing-tenure change at the estate level, with the development of a housing market within the estates considered a major success. The practitioners’ many concerns about the continued deprived status of the estates, however, undermine the notion that mixed-tenure policy success can be measured through housing price impacts (Groenhart, 2013). Indeed, the practitioners raised concerns about problems of ongoing affordability of homeownership lying beneath the aggregate tenure-change statistics, especially in relation to maintenance and utility bills for new owners on the estates.
60 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes Mixed-Tenure Orthodoxy: Practitioner Reflections on Policy Effects The desire to develop a housing market on the estates also reveals an ambiguity and vagueness of intention behind mixed-tenure policy. Sometimes practitioners talk about bringing “new blood” to the estates as a means of transformation and rejuvenation, but at other times they emphasize the expansion of house purchase opportunities for those living on the estates or with roots in the estate but currently living elsewhere. Both goals are legitimate, although they have yet to be compared as effective routes to change for social housing estates. They also reflect a classic case of “vagueness” in policy goals (Hogwood and Gunn, 1984), however, because the objective of achieving “mixed communities” (Holmes, 2006) is not specified in terms of the types or levels of tenure or other mix desired within any locality. This ambiguity of intention is hidden by means of “framing success” in terms of aggregate tenure change at the level of the estates (McConnell, 2010).
Practitioners would identify that the “job is not finished” on the three estates, but whether it will ever be so is open to question as a result of incomplete implementation. Elements of the transformation of places that are necessary for the creation of sustainable places have either not been tackled, such as area reputation (Kearns, Kearns, and Lawson, 2013), or weakly or incompletely tackled, such as the provision of local amenities and commercial premises. This implementation gap, an apparent inability to address the estates’ social and market failures, may partly reflect pragmatism (Hill and Hupe, 2002)—that is, that policy cannot “buck the market”—but it is also partly a product of not envisioning the task of neighborhood and community change as more than a spatial planning process.
We can also identify what we might term counterproductive delivery, which goes against the tenets of the prescribed orthodoxy. In the case of the two peripheral estates, little attempt was made to spatially integrate the main housing tenures. On the contrary, delivery has taken the form of segregated and segmented mono-tenure developments alongside one another, which is often what most suits housing providers of either tenure. Social landlords argue for clustering of properties for efficiency of management purposes; private house builders argue for separate developments to assist with property values and marketing. Practitioners now admit, however, that the estates suffer from forms of parochialism, with identities and boundaries hardened by the developments and tenure diversifications that have taken place. They also identify a lack of strategic, estate-level governance—such community organization and management being a key principle of sustainable communities—to assist the future development of the areas (Power, 2003). Although the spatial integration of tenures was achieved to a greater degree on the one estate (New Gorbals) where a master-planning process occurred than on the two estates that followed a process of incremental adaptation (Castlemilk and Drumchapel), across all three estates the general criticism of traditional planning could be applied that “land use and physical planning remained the central concern, with little attention to environmental, economic and social dimensions” (Todes et al., 2010: 415).