Sunday, 18 May 2008

What do we want? More Flats? When do we want them? NEVER!

According to the Hartlepool Mail tonight (Saturday 17th May) another of the town's "Grots" will soon be a thing of the past. Titan House, that stunning example of modern architecture at its very worst, is going to be converted into flats and bedsits (Sorry, Hartlepool developers don't do flats and bedsits, they do Apartments and Studios).

Google "Hartlepool Flats for rent" and you get over 500,000 hits. The sites that come up include 7 agencies offering flats to rent in Hartlepool and management services for landlords. Go down the brick canyons of the Marina and count the "To Let" signs. It doesn't take long to get into double figures. Who in their right mind would want to pay a six figure sum for a bed sit on York Road? Possibly the same people paying similar figures for a tiny rabbit hutch in the old Co-op Stores building? At least the Co-op has the benefit of some architectural merit and off-road car parking.

Hartlepool is not short of flats and bedsits. It is short of affordable homes and houses for rent. The shortage of course mainly caused by the mass demolition of streets and street of perfectly sound houses that for a fraction of their demolition costs could have been brought up to modern standards.

I am glad Titan House is getting money spent on it. However, converting it to flats will not cure the basic problem that it is an UGLY Building. Spend £1,000,000 on the interior but unless a similar amount is spent on the facade it will still, from the outside, look like the kindest thing that could happen to it would be to knock it down.

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