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Alton estate, Wandsworth

288 homes are earmarked for demolition on Wandsworth's Alton estate in Roehampton.

Wandsworth Council claims that demolition is necessary because the design of the buildings is poor and encourages anti-social behaviour:

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In 2017, Wandsworth signed a joint venture agreement with developer Redrow for the redevelopment of the estate.

Despite the existing estate comprising an almost even split of social rented and private homes (leaseholders and freeholders), it is claimed that "the limited diversity in housing tenures and high proportion of social housing has inhibited the creation of a genuinely mixed and balanced community".

Extract from planning application

Redrow submitted a planning application in late 2019, but in August 2020 it announced that it was pulling out of the scheme. Wandsworth Council went ahead and approved the application despite this in October 2020, giving consent for demolition and construction of 1,108 new homes of which 261 affordable (201 social rent).

In his stage 1 response to the planning application, the Mayor highlighted concerns about lack of consultation (para 36), quantum and rent levels of replacement 'social housing' (para 27) and the failure to apply for grant funding (para 39) and the failure to explore alternatives to demolition (para 20).

The requirement for the demolition of housing estates only to be considered as a last resort, is enshrined both in the Mayor's Estate Regeneration Guidance and the London Plan itself:

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Both the Mayor's stage 1 and stage 2 reports are entirely silent on Wandsworth's failure to explore alternative options and demonstrate that demolition is being pursued as a last resort.

The Mayor's (Jan 2022) stage 2 report does raise concern about the low levels of affordable housing but then goes on to approve Wandsworth's planning consent.

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Likewise the report is critical of Wandsworth's failure to apply for grant funding and ballot residents but then goes on to approve the planning consent.

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The Mayor's report is also highly critical of Wandsworth's viability testing, viability review mechanism and failure to utilise the £105m of HRA funding it has allocated to the scheme to improve the affordable housing offer.

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Despite these detailed concerns, the Mayor's stage 2 report concludes that on balance the Mayor is happy with Wandsworth's decision to approve its planning application for the redevelopment of the estate.

In the meantime, estate residents have been getting organised and have received funding to co-produce an alternative Community Plan, exploring alternatives to demolition assisted by a group of researchers from University College London and the Just Space network.

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Links:
Roehampton (Alton estate) SPD Oct 2015

Mayor's stage 1 report

Link to the revised planning application docs (ref:2019/2156)

Redrow's dedicated website for the scheme - https://www.altonestateregen.co.uk

Local Campaign group - http://www.altonwatch.org.uk