Knock down buildings?

Boris Johnson's "build, build, build" could see some demolitions

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Should more old buildings be demolished to make way for the new?

By Joe Harker

Boris Johnson wants the UK to "build, build, build" its way back to an economic recovery, but that might hit a snag of a lack of places to build.

There's plenty of spaces which could be refurbished, but many who want to build would rather start from scratch.

If that's going to happen then it would mean blocks of flats being demolished to make way for new constructions, so should it happen?

The Claim:

The prime minister wants to get the UK building and the government has confirmed there will be £900 million in funding for "shovel ready" projects which are basically ready to begin.

The aim is to build thousands of new homes in places which need it, very much the aim of Johnson's "build, build, build" strategy. Some old buildings will be renovated, others will be replaced.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said building new housing would "help build the good quality, affordable homes the country needs" and the old housing will be replaced with more energy efficient homes.

There's even a pandemic spin on some of the demolitions, as councils can also demolish old buildings considered to be contaminated by the coronavirus if they believe they have no other option.

There are times when old buildings begin to look a bit like an eyesore and are energy inefficient, when that happens it makes sense to knock them down and start again.

The Counter Claim:

However, a group of architects has warned that new developments should make every effort to refurbish old buildings rather than just demolish them.

Their main reason is climate change, the environmental impact of manufacturing so many new building materials is great.

Architects Journal managing editor Will Hurst is one of the main voices highlighting the problem with tearing old buildings down.

He said: "This staggering fact has only been properly grasped in the construction industry relatively recently. We've got to stop mindlessly pulling buildings down.

"It's crazy that the government actually incentivises practices that create more carbon emissions. Also, if you avoid demolition you make carbon savings right now, which we really need."

The Facts:

The government believes they can get 45,000 new homes from the first round of "shovel ready" projects, but they believe the more energy efficient buildings will cut CO2 emissions by around 65 million kg.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors says around 35 per cent of the carbon produced by a typical office building comes before it even opens, while this figure rises to 51 per cent for residential buildings.

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