Lambeth Councillor: “Cressingham Gardens – now look properly at a green retrofit”

1 December 2015

Following last week’s High Court ruling that Lambeth Council’s decision 
to abandon consultation on refurbishment of Cressingham Gardens was 
unlawful, Lambeth Councillor Scott Ainslie (Green Party, St Leonard’s 
ward) is now calling on Lambeth Council to fully explore options for 
green retrofitting of homes on the estate next to Brockwell Park, near 
Brixton.

“Significant grants are available to offset the cost of energy-saving 
refits of properties. And yet the affordability of these options have 
never been fully explored by council officers,” said Cllr Ainslie. “Now 
that the High Court has found that it was unlawful to abandon 
consultation on options such as this, Lambeth must demonstrate it is 
genuinely interested in improving residents’ homes and building more 
social housing – but without destroying thriving and successful 
communities such as Cressingham Gardens.”

Some 86 per cent of Cressingham Gardens residents favour repairs over 
demolition and rebuilding the estate. But in July Labour-run Lambeth 
decided to demolish up to 300 homes and set up a private developer arm 
to build 464 units of higher-density housing. Lambeth estimates up to 60 
per cent of the new homes for sale will go to buy-to-let landlords, with 
just 23 more social housing units than the current community.

Last week Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing ruled in the High Court that 
Lambeth’s decision to abandon consultation on March 9 this year was 
unlawful, after the council unfairly pulled the plug on three 
“refurbishment options”, leaving only two “demolition options” – partial 
or complete – on the table. (1)

The judge said she was “uneasy” about a memo, said to have been 
prepared by senior accountant Julie Curtis days before the decision 
showing that refurbishment options were “unaffordable”. In her ruling 
she said that council cabinet members, when making their decision on the 
future of Cressingham Gardens, were denied information about the true 
affordability of all five options initially under consideration.

She also ruled that councillors had been denied an accurate picture of 
residents’ views with opposition to demolition of the estate being 
downplayed.

Residents – supported by the Green Party - have been fighting 
demolition proposals for three years. They expect the new development to 
drive up living costs, forcing them out of London and destroying a 
supportive community. (2)
Council tenants wishing to remain on the new estate would lose their 
secure tenancies and a number of rights they now enjoy. Homeowners, 
including parents with children in local schools, are facing a value gap 
of at least £100, 000 on the new properties and many fear they will not 
be able secure mortgages.

Residents of privately-owned homes neighbouring the site are also 
facing compulsory purchase orders as a result of the council’s plans.

In August Cllr Ainslie formally ‘called in’ the council’s demolition 
decision for consideration by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny 
Committee (3). He said the decision should be referred back for 
reconsideration “as I believe the information in the report is 
inaccurate which therefore brings into question the validity of the 
cabinet’s decision.”

Today Cllr Ainslie said: “This is not a time to waste any more public 
money.. Lambeth needs more homes and more that are energy efficient. 
Developing existing estates with green retrofits makes sense, both for 
the resident communities who will save money and stay in the homes that 
they love – and for the planet.”

Contact Kate Coggins, press@lambeth.greenparty.org.uk

Notes.
1. Full report of the Judicial Review can be seen here: 
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2015/3386.html
2. The Green Party is supporting campaigns by other communities 
threatened under Lambeth’s proposed estate regeneration programme, 
including Central Hill in Upper Norwood, Macintosh Court in Streatham, 
and Westbury estate on the edge of Clapham.
3. 
http://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=113&MId=9565






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