Lambeth Council to debate estate demolition ballots

5 July 2018

Lambeth Council to debate motion on ballots for estate regeneration.

Proposal to give residents a say in the future of their homes.

Three housing estates must be balloted about Lambeth Council’s plans to demolish and rebuild them - a motion to be put to Lambeth Council on 18th July by Green Party councillors is proposing.

The Green Party, which became the main opposition group on Lambeth Council in local elections in May, is seeking cross-party support for its motion, which, if passed, would lead to ballots on Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace, Fenwick estate in Clapham and Cressingham Gardens estate near Brixton.

The three estates are among six earmarked for demolition and replacement by a mixture of privately owned housing and more expensive ‘homes at social rent’ [1] as part of Labour-led Lambeth council’s 2012 and 2014 strategies for bringing its housing up to decent standards and increasing the overall supply of housing in the borough.

Since then, concern over the impact of demolition on residents and their neighbours has spread and figures for the number of promised social rent homes to be built have changed several times, leading to mistrust of consultation processes. Dispute over the initial consultation on Cressingham Gardens reached the High Court, which ruled it ‘unlawful’ [2].

In February the Mayor of London set out guidelines for estate regeneration, making mandatory ballots of residents a condition of City Hall funding [3].

The Green Party motion notes the mayor’s requirement on ballots, and support elsewhere in the Labour Party, including the September 2017 Labour Party Conference [4], November 2018 London Labour Party conference [5] and from the local Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party [6], which all passed motions in support of estate ballots within the last year.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also gave his support to ballots in a speech at the September 2017 Labour Conference. [7]

Green Party councillor, Pete Elliott (Gipsy Hill ward) said: “We know that many people of all parties are uneasy at the prospect of regeneration being forced on communities without their full participation and agreement. In Lambeth, a flawed process has led to trust being lost.

“People’s homes, security, and health is at stake – and I’m sure my fellow councillors agree their wellbeing should be treated with the utmost care and respect.

 

“Independently-run ballots, with equal resourcing and fact-checking for all sides would go a long way to providing the transparency required to restore confidence and allowing Lambeth Council to develop proper plans to increase the availability of genuinely affordable housing without dividing communities and fuelling conflict.”

Notes

[1] Council tenants returning to new homes on regenerated estates will lose their secure tenancies. (Lambeth Council’s key guarantees: https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/documents/s80089/Appendix%20K%20-%20Key%20Guarantees.pdf). Due to the increased value of new-build properties, council tenants will face ‘social rents’ that could be 25% more expensive than current council rents. Leasehold homeowners on Cressingham Gardens estimate they will need to find at least £200,000 if they want to remain ‘homeowners’ rather than become shared ownership tenants or private renters; it is estimated market rents on a rebuilt Cressingham Gardens could be as high as £3,000 per month for a 4-bed flat.

[2] Cressingham consultation at High Court: http://www.brixtonblog.com/cressingham-decision-unlawful-judge-rules/34255

[3] Mayor’s guidelines on estate regeneration https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/ground-breaking-plans-for-estate-regen-ballots-0

[4] Labour Party conference motion: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/labours-housing-policies-under-the-spotlight-52681

[5] London Labour Party Regional Conference:  https://wembleymatters.blogspot.com/2017/11/london-labour-adopts-radical.html

[6] Vauxhall Labour Party motion: http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2018/01/vauxhall-labour-party-calls-on-lambeth-council-to-ballot-residents-ahead-of-estate-regeneration-plans/

[7] Jeremy Corbyn speech to Labour Party Conference Sept 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/27/jeremy-corbyn-labour-councils-housing






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