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Mar 27

London Estate Regeneration: Our response to the Mayor’s draft good practice guide to estate regeneration

Community housing

It is widely acknowledged that London is facing a housing crisis.

Whilst the number of jobs in London has grown by 40% over the last two decades, the number of new homes has only increased by 15%.[1] Average rent is 1.76 times the national average[2] and house prices in London are 2.3 times the national average[3].

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, placed tackling the housing crisis as first priority in his Manifesto, committing to building thousands more homes for Londoners[4]. A big part of meeting that pledge will be regenerating London’s estates, but this process can be fraught with problems. In order to address some of these issues, the Mayor’s office has produced a new guide to set out how estate regeneration should be carried out: the Mayor’s draft Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration.

At Locality, we recently submitted our response to the consultation on this guide. The guide sets out key principles of the renewal of social housing estates in London: that residents should be closely involved in regeneration; that existing tenants and leaseholders should be treated fairly; and that affordable housing must be protected throughout.

The document provides a solid basis for ensuring that solutions to the capital’s burgeoning housing crisis are forged in partnership with local communities. However, we believe the guidance needs to go much further to ensure that its positive aspirations are achieved in practice. There needs to be a real and tangible commitment to community involvement from the very beginning, leading to a situation in which communities are empowered through asset ownership and neighbourhood management.

Locality have recommended key principles and provided examples to the Mayor’s office, which can ensure that communities are “partners in”, rather than “party to”, estate regeneration. We offered three principles which are essential to achieving this vision and ensuring the fullest possible community involvement:

  1. Community leadership and engagement at the heart of the programme

It is clear that the short and long term success of estate regeneration depends on securing support from residents. Local authorities should involve communities in a conversation about any possible regeneration at the very earliest stage, and not just when a plan is deemed to be viable. We suggest that the co-design of any proposals should be the expected standard.

Co-design can be facilitated through links between decision makers and community anchor organisations and local voluntary and community organisations. Community anchor organisations are particularly effective at ensuring a range of people in the community are supported to engage with decision making processes, including those who would typically not have a voice.

Westway Trust in North Kensington are a prime example of how well co-design can work. When making developments to the area where Portobello Road meets the Westway, they undertook a multi-stage consultation programme to understand the needs of the local community and develop proposals directly with the community.

  1. Commitment to developing community ownership of assets

Community asset ownership and management of the estate or elements of the estate should be the gold standard in estate regeneration practice. Community assets cover a wide spectrum are capable of generating a profit that can be reinvested into activities that benefit the community. All instances of estate regeneration should consider from the outset what assets could be transferred into community ownership. This would not only ensure buy-in from residents through a tangible, physical stake in the process of regeneration, but it is the best way to invest in community capital and ensure communities are empowered and self-sustaining over the long term.

Brixton Green are a community group who were established to ensure that the community would be at the forefront of the redevelopment of Somerleyton Road in Lambeth. Brixton Green and Lambeth Council are working on the detail to agree a long-term lease for the Somerleyton Road development, to be held by Somerleyton Trust (established by Brixton Green).

  1. Neighbourhood planning – building on existing momentum of neighbourhood planning. 

Neighbourhood planning provides an important tool for ensuring the estates regeneration programme is community-led and ensures there is local support through a referendum. We recommended that the Mayor’s Good Practice Guide clearly states that where a Neighbourhood Plan exists, or is in development, the neighbourhood planning group should be engaged as estate regeneration partner to ensure that the process goes with the grain of the pre-established aspirations of the local community. Areas without a Neighbourhood Plan should be encouraged to use the estate regeneration process as an opportunity to adopt one, to enable local residents to steer the direction of change.

A fair deal for tenants and leaseholders

While redeveloping London’s housing estates to achieve greater density is crucial to averting the capital’s housing crisis, it should not be forgotten that estate regeneration is about improving the estate for the existing residents. Improving the estate with the ongoing input and support of the existing community is the real route to increasing the pride and cohesion that exists within a place. The expected standard should be a ‘right to return’ to the estate in one move with the same tenure as they had before regeneration.

The involvement of community anchor organisations ensures residents are well informed of their options and rights as well as the plans for regeneration, as they are known to the community and engage with and support a wide variety of local people.

Read our full consultation response here.

[1] Greater London Authority (2017). Housing in London: 2017. Available at: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[2] Office for National Statistics (2015). Housing Expenditure. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/compendium/familyspending/2015/chapter2housingexpenditure

[3] Nationwide (2017). Nationwide’s House Price Index. Available at: http://www.nationwide.co.uk/about/house-price-index/headlines#tab:Headlines

[4] Sadiq Khan (2016). A Manifesto for all Londoners. Available at: http://www.sadiq.london/a_manifesto_for_all_londoners

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