The High Court has refused Southwark Council’s application for a judicial review, following the secretary of state’s decision to block the compulsory purchase of eight homes on south London’s Aylesbury Estate
The community purchase order (CPO) to buy out eight remaining leaseholders, across seven different blocks on the estate, would have allowed work to start on the ‘first development site’ – 830 homes designed by HTA Design.
But the CPO was blocked by secretary of state Sajid Javid in September, who said the proposal would breach the residents’ human rights.
Javid agreed with the planning inspector, who found that the council adopted ‘extremely low valuations’ to compensate leaseholders for their properties – meaning most leaseholders would be forced to leave the area or invest in a new, more expensive property.
Southwark Council then applied to the High Court for a judicial review of Javid’s decision, however this has now been refused.
In the court order, issued on 19 December (see related files below), High Court judge Ian Dove concluded that the each of the grounds of Southwark Council’s judicial review application was ‘not arguable and permission must be refused’.
Regarding the human rights of the leaseholders, the order stated that the difference between Southwark Council’s valuation of the leaseholders’ properties and the cost of replacement properties in the area ’would either require them to use savings and to contemplate shared ownership or shared equity arrangements, or alternatively force them to the area with the consequent social dislocation.’
The order also added that Javid, having used the available information, had made a ‘reasonable assumption’ on the impact the proposals would have on the demographic profile of the estate.
When he rejected the CPO, Javid had concluded that black and ethnic minority residents would be likely to be disproportionately affected because they would have less ability to retain cultural ties if they had to move out of the area than white British residents.
In addition, the order upheld Javid’s view that the sunlight and daylight entering a number of rooms and open spaces in the plans would not achieve the BRE guidance.
Siân Berry, a Green Party London Assembly member, agreed that the rejection of Southwark Council’s judicial review left a question mark over the financial viability of the Aylesbury Estate masterplan.
’The council has a duty to spend public money wisely and if the viability of this scheme goes, and gets affected by this judgment, then it should look again at things that cost less, cause less disruption, that enable it to keep the leaseholders in the area,’ she said.
’If it’s going to cost the council a lot more to compensate people properly then it does affect the economics, and potentially the council should be looking to preserve some of the blocks […] they are crying out to be refurbished.’
Berry added: ’For the future, it really does change the economics of whether or not you decide to demolish and rehouse people, and if you are going to demolish people’s homes you’ve got to offer them a better deal – otherwise you are going to run into the same problems as Southwark.’
Meanwhile, Southwark Council has said it will appeal the Hight Court’s decision with an oral hearing.
Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes at Southwark Council, said: ’This is not a decision we take lightly, but our residents need new affordable homes, and the secretary of state’s decision has huge ramifications for Southwark, and for councils across London that are trying to help tackle the housing crisis.
’On the Aylesbury alone, turning down our CPO means the secretary of state is jeopardising plans for 800 new homes for Londoners, including hundreds at social rent as well as extra care homes for some of our most vulnerable residents. We can’t sit back and jeopardise this fantastic project, and that is why we have to challenge the decision.’
Southwark Council previously said that it was unwilling to use any more taxpayers’ money to raise its offers to the eight remaining leaseholders on the estate, who will need to be moved out before work can start on HTA Design’s 830 homes.
The court order stated that the council is required to pay the cost of the judicial review application, alongside Javid’s response, in which he maintained his reasons for blocking the CPO request.
Earlier this month, Southwark Council approved plans by Duggan Morris Architects and HTA for 120 new homes and a range of community facilities – known as Plot 18 – at the Aylesbury Estate.
The overall masterplan for estate, for which HTA Design is the lead architect, provides for 3,500 homes and won outline planning permission in April last year.
While the total number of homes will increase by 1,225 – amounting to an extra 6,014 habitable rooms – the number of homes at a social rent will decrease by 778, equivalent to 1,323 habitable rooms. This is due to an increase in the quantity of private homes.
Work began on Aylesbury, one of the largest housing estates in Europe, in the mid-1960s on a 28.5ha site near Elephant & Castle. Designed by Derek Winch of Southwark Council’s architects’ department, its 2,759 flats were housed in long slab blocks between four and 14 storeys high.
In 1997, Tony Blair made his first speech as prime minister on the Aylesbury Estate, to demonstrate his commitment to improving life for the poorest in society.
Last year, a block on the estate was occupied by a group of housing activists protesting against the demolition of the estate and the gentrification of London.
The regeneration of the estate has also become a rallying point for campaign group Architects for Social Housing (ASH).
Aylesbury Estate masterplan showing net change of total number of homes
HR = Habitable rooms
|PRIVATE HOMES||ALL HOMES|
|Early phases (L&Q)||148
|NHH proposed FDS
Source: Aylesbury Now