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Keeping up to date with the latest news on estate regeneration in London.

September 2020 Bulletin

Here is our brief round up of estate regeneration news for August. Thanks to everyone who got in touch to let us know what is going on with their estates.

Alton estate - developer pulls out

Wandsworth Council’s development partner Redrow has confirmed that it is pulling out of the Alton estate regeneration.

Wandsworth Council leader, Ravi Govindia is subsequently reported as saying that the Council intends to explore other options for proceeding with the scheme:

“Despite these unprecedented times, the council remains completely committed to delivering the transformational regeneration the residents of the Alton Estate expect and deserve. We will be exploring options as to how to deliver the scheme without Redrow and to maintain momentum subject to planning permission being granted.”

Residents speaking out on the decision say that they want to see a community-based plan with “more of a focus on refurbishment, and small-scale development with more social housing.”

Leonie Cooper, London Assembly member for Wandsworth, has issued a statement questioning whether demolition is the right way forward - “Given the Council has now declared a Climate Emergency, it should first start by considering whether demolition and reconstruction is the best way ahead at all”.

Hopefully Wandsworth will take heed of the calls to review its plans and explore the growing evidence showing that refurbishment of council estates is the best option socially, environmentally and economically.

Residents vote against demolition at Gilbey’s Yard & Juniper Crescent estates

Residents of Gilbey’s Yard and Juniper Crescent estates have voted against the demolition of their homes in a ballot held by Civica on behalf of housing association One Housing.

A letter sent to residents following the ballot, confirms that of the 185 eligible residents, 91 voted against demolition while 68 voted in favour (26 failed to cast their votes).

One Housing’s head of Regeneration has since written to residents indicating that the housing association may try and run the ballot again, with revised proposals ‘based on feedback’.

A newsletter from the TRA and report from its Vice Chair Karl Lewkowicz, sets out residents’ reasons for rejecting the proposals, including:

  • Lack of clarity on the amount of social housing proposed
  • Lack of detailed information about proposed tenures and security of tenure
  • Concerns about space standards of the proposed replacement affordable housing
  • Concerns about increased Service Charges and Council Tax on the redeveloped estate

The report concludes with the Vice Chair summing up negotiations with the housing association prior to the ballot:

“On a personal note, as the Vice Chair of GY TRA I have found negotiations with One Housing unsatisfactory and frustrating. They seem to me to want to appear to be complying with the regulations of the GLA and Camden Council whilst taking no real interest in the needs of the tenants. There are many complaints about them from tenants regarding repairs and maintenance and their staff turnover is very high so that any continuity in communications or development of an on-going relationship with the estate officer is made very difficult.”

“It feels to me as though repairs and maintenance have been considerably run down prior to the ballot in the run up to the ballot and that any real and tangible progress in the substance of the landlord offer was obstructed.”

The Mayor introduced the requirement to ballot residents in 2018 and while the GLA keeps a list of estates where positive ballots have taken place, it doesn’t record ballots where residents have voted against redevelopment.

Grahame Park estate - developer influenced planning policy

Barnet’s regeneration of the Grahame Park estate has come under criticism in an investigation by the Guardian.

It revealed that Barnet council received £223,000 from the housing association redeveloping the estate (Notting Hill Genesis) to cover the costs of a planning brief, which specified that additional social housing be provided “only where viable”.

The housing association subsequently proposed cutting the number of affordable homes by 257.

This doesn’t bode well for the Grahame Park scheme, which is one of London’s largest council estate demolitions or the other large-scale demolitions which Notting Hill Genesis is involved in, like the aylesbury estate in Southwark and the Woodberry Down estate in Hackney.

Joyce Park and Snells Avenue estate - Council seeks funding

The leader of Enfield Council has written to Tom Copley, deputy Mayor for Housing suggesting that the Mayor’s COVID-19 Housing Recovery Task Force use emergency pandemic funding for the redevelopment of its Joyce Park and Snells Avenue estate.

The taskforce, chaired and convened by Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development Tom Copley, is made up of leaders from across London’s housing delivery sector including councils, construction, unions, and housing associations.

The group met six times between April and July 2020 to consider how the sector should adapt and maintain resilience following the coronavirus pandemic.

It looked at specific support needed from Government that would be effective in maintaining housing supply and providing confidence in the market.

The Taskforce has produced a report identifying ways that public funding could be used to mitigate the economic shock on the housing sector.

The foreword to the report sounds promising with Tom Copley saying that “The housing market we had before did not work for most Londoners, and Covid-19 presents an opportunity to rebuild a model which works better for all”. But the report fails to say anything about retrofitting council estates, or reviewing the current funding regime which favours demolition over refurbishment.

September Zoom meeting

Last month’s Estate Watch zoom meeting was well attended, with representatives from around a dozen estates under threat sharing their experiences. During this month’s meeting we will be going through some of the key issues for leaseholders and reviewing the resources currently available on the website.

The meeting will take place on 15th September at 2pm. Please email to request attendance.