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Estate regeneration housing projects in London will need to be approved by residents

Major estate regeneration schemes in London involving any demolition of social homes must have the backing of existing residents before they can receive City Hall funding under ground-breaking new rules introduced by the Mayor.

Sadiq Khan has introduced a new condition of City Hall funding which requires residents to have voted in favour of plans that involve the demolition of social homes. This is the first time such a condition has been introduced anywhere in the UK.

Following publication of a draft version of the condition earlier this year, a consultation found 88% of respondents were supportive of the Mayor’s proposals to make ballots mandatory for schemes where any demolition of social homes is planned, with the aim of putting residents at the centre of decision making and encouraging landlords to make plans in close consultation with them.

The final version of the condition further strengthens the ballot requirements from the draft version by setting out clearly how funding can be clawed back when a project is complete if it is found not to honour the original offer from the landlord.

It also made it clear that even those schemes that have had a ballot in the past must undertake a new ballot on a landlord offer which must be honoured to receive and keep Mayoral funding.

At any one time there are estimated to be around 35 estate regeneration schemes underway in London involving funding from City Hall, and in future new schemes will require a positive ballot to benefit from the Mayor agreeing such financial support.

‘When estate regeneration is done well, it can improve the lives of existing residents as well as building more social housing. But that has not always been the case. Anyone drawing up plans for estate regeneration must involve local people and must consider what impact their plans will have on people who live there now,’ said Khan.

‘That is why, from now on, City Hall funding for significant estate regeneration schemes involving any demolition of social homes will, for the first time, only be approved where there has been a positive residents’ ballot,’ he added.

The Mayor also wants councils and housing associations to commit to balloting residents for schemes where his funding is not involved and where he has no power to insist on one.

‘Balloting residents on estate redevelopments means that existing communities are truly at the heart of changes in their area. Lewisham will be balloting residents as part of our ambitious programme to build new social and genuinely affordable homes,’ said the Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan.

The leader of Enfield Council Nesil Caliskan also backs the move. ‘Putting residents at the heart of estate renewal is a sensible and genuinely engaging way of making sure future developments meet the needs of the people who are going to live on them,’ said Caliskan.

‘We have already asked residents on the Alma Estate their views on the £315 million refurbishment of the estate and we are now proceeding rapidly with the project. We also have plans for future consultations on other major developments in our borough,’ Caliskan added.

While the Mayor has limited powers around estate regeneration, he is determined to use his funding and planning powers to their fullest extent to protect social housing and give its residents a voice in the capital. His draft London Plan sets out that there should be no net loss of social housing in estate regeneration schemes and an increase in affordable homes wherever possible.

The London Mayor’s funding condition requiring ballots was published in draft alongside Better Homes for Local People, the first ever City Hall guide to estate regeneration in London, which was developed following an extensive consultation process.

The guide seeks to empower tenants, leaseholders and freeholders in developing regeneration plans with their landlords, and forms a key part of the Mayor’s broader calls for social housing residents to have a bigger say in the future of their estates following last year’s horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.

The Mayor believes councils have a huge part to play in tackling London’s housing crisis, and his Building Council Homes for Londoners programme is supporting them to start at least 10,000 new homes by 2022. This is the first ever City Hall programme dedicated to supporting council housing, and will use funding from the £1.67 billion he secured from Government in the Spring Budget Statement 2018.