Lesnes estate (Thamesmead East phase 2), Bexley
596 homes (411 social rent & 185 leasehold) are earmarked for demolition on the Lesnes estate (part of the larger Thamesmead estate) situated in the borough of Bexley.
This is the second phase of Peabody's redevelopment of the Bexley side of the Thamesmead estate. In 2017, Bexley approved the first phase highlighted below in orange:
The whole of the Bexley side of the Thamesmead estate has been earmarked for redevelopment in this capacity study commissioned by Bexley Council.
The Lesnes estate has been identified as a priority site to come forward in the Council's Local Plan but a planning application is yet to come forward.
In March 2020 Peabody balloted residents on the Lesnes estate, asking them “Are you in favour of Peabody’s proposal to include Lesnes Estate in their regeneration plans for South Thamesmead?”
The result saw 65.4% of eligible residents taking part in the ballot, with 70.2% voting ‘yes’.
This is despite tenants being told that the rents of the new homes will increase above their current levels - albeit tiered over a period of 10 years.
In its ballot offer to residents, Peabody also makes it clear that if residents vote against the proposals there will be no refurbishment. Instead Peabody says 'We would maintain the homes on Lesnes Estate as best we can and a new proposal would be put together with feedback from residents.'
Bexley's Growth Strategy envisages 4,000 new homes in the Thamesmead area facilitated by the new Crossrail station and including the 'renewal' of existing estates.
Peabody has partnered with Australian developer Lendlease (Heygate estate regeneration) to deliver 11,500 homes in Thamesmead over the next 30 years.
In July 2021, Peabody submitted its plans for the demolition of the 596 homes on the estate.
Peabody wants to triple the density, replacing the estate with 1,950 new homes of which just 61 social rent. A further 307 homes will be (London) affordable rent and 279 shared ownership, the remainder private for sale units.
There is nothing in the application to explain why it fails to comply with the Mayor's policy requirement of 50% affordable housing and no net loss of social rented homes.
Neither is there any explanation as to how the scheme complies with the Mayor's requirement that alternatives to demolition have been explored and demolition is being pursued as a last resort.
Peabody has submitted a financial viability assessment explaining that it can't provide more social or affordable housing because the scheme is not viable. In its calculations Peabody has included a 16% profit margin (amounting to £110m) as a cost to the scheme, which it says is the minimum profit it requires - despite it being a non-profit charitable trust rather than a developer.
We reported last year that the Mayor's next round of grant funding excludes funding for replacement affordable homes, only additional affordable homes will qualify.
This is one of the first schemes which appears to be affected by that. The viability assessment explicitly acknowledges this. It will be interesting to see what the Mayor's stage 1 response to the planning application will look like - i.e. whether he will allow his change in grant funding rules, to be used in justifying failures to meet his basic affordable housing requirements for estate regeneration. Or whether he will insist that Peabody uses its £110m profit margin to improve its affordable housing offer. Watch this space!
Peabody's 2017 consultation documents for the Lesnes estate scheme.
Peabody's final 2019 Lesnes estate masterplan - https://www.thamesmeadnow.org.uk/media/3020/lesnes-masterplan_public-consultation_july-2019_compressedxs.pdf
Peabody's website for the Lesnes estate regeneration - http://www.lesnes.org.uk
Peabody's website for the Thamesmead regeneration - http://www.thamesmeadnow.org.uk
Local news website - https://www.fromthemurkydepths.co.uk/category/thamesmead/