Telegraph – Harry Mount: Architectural beauty – and private home ownership – relieve poverty

There’s a show on BBC 2 called “Secret History of our Streets” which sounds amazing:

Caledonian Road is near where I was brought up – and the programme illustrates really well how architectural beauty, and private ownership, relieved the poverty of Islington. The whole area was extremely run-down from 1900 until the 1960s. And then gentrification came to the pretty Victorian terraces – well, it did to the terraces that remained privately-owned. Islington Council compulsorily purchased some of them, knocked them down and replaced them with ugly modern blocks.

Today, those privately-owned houses are worth two or three million pounds, including the one once owned by Tony Blair; while the council-owned modern blocks are worth a fraction of that, incubate crime and remain run down.

Among those interviewed in the programme is a pub landlady on the Caledonian Road, whose father owned several of the Victorian terraced houses, forcibly purchased by Islington for next to nothing in the 60s. He died, broke and miserable; his daughter should be worth millions, living in one of those beautiful terraced houses; but instead still remains trapped on the poorer side of the tracks. And all thanks to the local council and its mad opposition to architectural beauty.

Depressing.