Mayor should block council estate plans that don’t have resident support

I’ve called on Sadiq Khan to swiftly introduce new planning policies to block estate regeneration if a majority of residents oppose the plans.

This is urgently needed in places like the Central Hill Estate in Lambeth, which I’ve visited twice in the last two weeks. First to talk to resident groups about their alternative plans to regenerate the estate without demolition, and then this weekend to support our candidate Pete Elliott in a council by-election in the ward. Pete is getting lots of support thanks to the Greens being the only party standing by local residents and their plans.

central_hill_visit_May_2016_800

In written answers to my questions to the Mayor this week, he has said he will reflect in the London Plan his manifesto commitment to ensure resident support, full and transparent consultation and no net loss of social housing when estates are redeveloped to include more homes. He also promised to talk to Lambeth Council about Central Hill.

I’m calling on him to do all this soon – via amendments to the current London Plan not by waiting until a whole new plan is written. Many hundreds of estates are at risk across London already, and while estate regeneration remains a byword for sweeping away council homes and their residents for expensive private flats, we need action soon.

Improvements to estates could be done well, refurbishing old homes and building new ones without widespread demolition and with the full involvement and support of existing residents.

So, I’m pleased that the Mayor will be introducing planning policies on these issues, but I hope he doesn’t drag his feet. Talking to residents at Central Hill, I can see that the consultation process has gone from bad to worse recently, with options put forward by residents barely explored by the council.

The Central Hill estate will therefore be a key test of his resolve: will he fundamentally change the council’s approach?

A Green councillor for Gipsy Hill ward would certainly help too, and I hope Pete gets a really good vote on Thursday!

Pete Elliot with Sian and local activist Alex

The Mayor’s answers to my questions this week:

Estate regeneration – resident support (1)
Question No: 2016/1589
Sian Berry
Will you immediately review the GLA’s funding for estate regeneration schemes in light of your manifesto commitment, requiring that ‘estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation, and that demolition is only permitted where it does not result in a loss of social housing, or where all other options have been exhausted, with full rights to return for displaced tenants and a fair deal for leaseholders’?
Written response from the Mayor:
As someone who grew up on a council estate, I fully understand concerns about regeneration. I intend to develop a common set of principles with London’s boroughs and Housing Associations about regeneration for the future, in line with my manifesto commitments, so that we can help earn the trust of residents towards plans that come forward.

Estate regeneration – resident support (2)
Question No: 2016/1590
Sian Berry
Will you reflect your manifesto commitment on estate regeneration in your new London Plan?
Written response from the Mayor
Yes. I will reflect my manifesto commitment on estate regeneration in changes made to the London Plan.

Central Hill Estate
Question No: 2016/1591
Sian Berry
While plans for the Central Hill estate are not directly funded by the GLA, will you lobby Lambeth Council to ensure it runs a full and transparent consultation on how to refurbish and increase the numbers of homes on this estate, including options put forward by resident groups, and to ensure that no option is pursued for the estate without majority resident support?
Written response from the Mayor
I will ensure my officers work closely with Lambeth Council to ensure that Central Hill benefits from any plans for redevelopment and is taken forward with full and transparent engagement with residents.

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