The VPR Blog

Unearthing the Hidden History of Property In Leeds

case 02 gallery 01Old houses hold and preserve history. Unlike other possessions, old houses predate us and may well outlast us. With a bit of rummaging you can often produce an exact date when an old house was built. The Lodge pictured left was restored by Vintage Property Restoration in 2012. It appeared on the 1890 ordinance survey map of Leeds but did not appear on an 1880 layout of the area. Eventually a search through the West Yorkshire archive in Morley uncovered a certificate of planning permission granted to one time owner of Tetley’s Brewery, Sir Charles Ryder, in 1882.

But property history is about more than dates and one of the riches of restoration work is that it puts you in direct contact with the social history of houses. Secrets of the times houses were built in; secrets of the people who lived within; and secrets of the men who have built, repaired and converted houses over the years can all be revealed once floor boards come up.

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Sound Insulation in Old Houses

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If you live in a flat in a converted house with neighbours above, then you will know that sound insulation is an issue.

Floors of most old houses are divided by wooden floorboards, an empty joist void and a one inch thick lath and plaster ceiling. Even when carpeted airborne noise (voices, TV etc.) and impact noise (footsteps or thing being dropped) can be clearly heard below.

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Investing in Leeds: Has Chapeltown’s Hour Come?

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At some point in the 1980s the drab North Leeds district of Chapel Allerton became a desirable place to live. Bars, cafes, restaurants and shops sprung up and property prices soared. The hitherto nebulous boundary between Chapel Allerton and neighbouring Chapeltown became a virtual ghetto wall. To the north a well-heeled residential quarter; to the south, the inner-city.

Nevertheless, Chapeltown is nearer Leeds City Centre, has more period architecture, a better park and much more cultural sincerity. It was surely only a matter of time before it followed Chapel Allerton to become the newest new place to live in Leeds. Or was it?

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The Housing Benefit Trap


Leeds bins

Before I wade in here, let me set out my values. I believe the State has the responsibility to protect the vulnerable in society and to ensure that they are adequately housed. I also believe that all state benefits should be “smart”, crafted to minimise distorting markets if and when such distortions create socially negative externalities.

Much is said about housing benefit engendering dependency and complacency amongst the unemployed. Less is mentioned about how housing benefit creates the same dependency and complacency amongst landlords. Or about the negative consequences that landlords' benefit calculations can have on inner-city neighbourhoods.

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