Homes for Lambeth plans to demolish a building used for the temporary accommodation of homeless households, to erect a multi-storey housing block.
Serious questions have been raised, however, as to what this might mean for the broader regeneration of the estate.
By presenting the Roman Rise development as a “small” site with “100% affordable” housing (1) - which comprises just 31 residential units, HfL has stated that this Phase 1 of Central Hill regeneration does not need to be part of a Master Plan, and so avoiding necessary financial scrutiny.
HfL - the council’s development company - plans to deliver just 320 homes at council rent having demolished 460 homes on the estate. This would mean a net loss of council homes.
In total 1184 homes will be built but only 23% are planned to be at Council Level Rent and over 60% would be for private sale. The project would complete in 2040, thirty years after the council began its initiative to build 1000 new council homes - which it now turns out will do little more than replace the ones it will demolish.
Community engagement has been negligible. The community consultation carried out by Thorncliffe at the beginning of lockdown was an online presentation which resulted in residents being unable to engage (3).
In 2017 residents were told that they could expect to see a Community Centre as part of Phase 1. This will not now be the case.
Lambeth Council declared a Climate Emergency over two years ago, yet plans for the new Truslove House fail to take any account of the embodied carbon locked into the material of the existing or the new building. Mature trees that currently soak up pollution, provide shade and multiple other environmental benefits, are to be felled and removed.
Homes for Lambeth is borrowing money from Lambeth Council to build the homes and is then proposing to pay a carbon offset tax back to Lambeth Council, rather than building to the best environmental standards or simply refurbishing the current buildings.
Residents have not been balloted because the majority of residents oppose the demolition of their structurally sound homes. They would rather see them refurbished and retrofitted instead which is much better for the community and environment.
Recognising the current housing crisis and urgent need for improved social housing, green members in Gipsy Hill hope to work closely with the administration to find the best way forward. With current proposals leading to a reduced number of truly affordable housing, and unnecessary demolition of existing buildings, other options for the site need to be considered.
Cllr Elliott, Green Party councillor in Gipsy Hill ward says: “I have lived on the Central Hill Estate for the last 4 years and I have witnessed first-hand the unnecessary suffering that my neighbours have endured through deliberate neglect of the estate and community. Mental Health issues have been a real issue on the estate since residents were informed that their homes, of 50 years in some cases, were to be demolished.”
“Lambeth Council must do everything in its power to protect the wellbeing of its residents, also to uphold the commitments made two years ago to address the climate emergency. I will be standing alongside the residents of the Central Hill estate to object to the demolition of Truslove House.”
A petition has also been launched by residents ahead of the committee deliberations this evening which you are encouraged to sign (4).