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Wythenshawe has the dubious honour of being the largest council estate in Europe. In the 1920s the estate was a groundbreaking example of the benefits of social housing. Designed as a 'garden city', the houses in Wythenshawe benefited from indoor lavatories and gardens to the front and back of the houses. Rather than the grids of terraced housing that characterized the Victorian slums tenants were leaving, the houses formed crescents, cul de sacs and avenues.
For a while, Wythenshawe thrived. Early tenants have spoken of the pride with which their parents tended their gardens and the community feel that flowed through the area. However, as development continued and Wythenshawe spread outwards, the area began to suffer.
Vast numbers of tenants were moved in from various areas of Manchester with very little regard for fostering a community spirit. There were few amenities such as shops, schools or play areas. Crucially, there were also very few employment opportunities for residents. Within a few decades the area had begun to get a reputation for violence, antisocial behaviour and economic deprivation.
This came to a head during the eighties and nineties. By this time Wythenshawe had become a volatile area, linked with the image of the 'hoodie' and the ASBO.
However, there has been a marked improvement in the area over the last decade. Industrial plants nearby have had a significant effect on employment levels and local amenities have sprung up across the estate. While Wythenshawe is still among the most deprived areas in Manchester, it no longer deserves the reputation it once had. The Right to Buy scheme means there is a fair percentage of privately owned housing in the area and property prices are fairly cheap, with a one-bedroom flat costing around £110,000 and a four-bedroom house coming to £160,000.