The Effects of Planning Blight on Bell Street
For thirty years the Bell Street area was an area of planning blight because nobody knew what would happen to the proposed school area. The Church Street area just north of the planned 'campus area' had been largely obliterated by bombing and had been rebuilt as large blocks of flats. To do this residents had to be dispersed to distant areas and family generations broken up. When the planning blight in Bell Street was lifted, people who had watched their friends' families being dispersed and familiar links destroyed, wanted none of it. Instead they demanded small-scale rebuilding and to stay in the neighbourhood.
As a result, Octavia Hill's Ranston Street cottages next to the school, with their cobbled street and Letchworth type of hanging tiles, are still standing and other development is also on a human scale. Standing in Broadley Street, beside the Marylebone Lower House building, 1960 and 1980 planning ideas confront each other. To the north has been large-scale demolition and rebuilding in large blocks: while to the south, there are restoration and small-scale rebuilding.
These houses were built for sale without internal decoration and some other details. To keep down the cost, each new owner was to complete the work shell. The neighbouring Georgian buildings were the inspiration for the scale of the houses and the rendered ground floors.
The houses and flats in Daventry Street had been condemned as unfit for human habitation in 1926 and left empty for years but were never replaced. After the 1839-45 bombing they were patched up and brought back into use as a temporary measure. Dr Jacobs remembers it as the worst street in the area. The houses then mouldered throughout the Planning Blight from 1960-80. There were complaints of rats, fly dumping of rubbish and building rubble, and continued requests for transfers by the tenants. Not until the late 1990s were they finally restored and modernised. Now, about seventy years after they were first condemned, they are run by a Housing Co-operative.