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Hot topics of mayoral debate: Regeneration, foreign money and towers

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London mayoral candidates pledged to safeguard tenants’ right to return to regenerated estates and tighten controls on foreign investment, in a hustings on housing, hosted by a property charity this week

Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith said he would ‘enshrine’ in City Hall’s planning rulebook the principle that ’existing tenants would be allowed to stay’ following the redevelopment of council estates.

Goldsmith confirmed his support for the prime minister’s drive to radically regenerate scores of ‘dilapidated’ estates built in the 1960s and 1970s but said the ‘key’ was to ‘do it properly’.

‘I will enshrine in the London plan that no one on existing estates would be moved off the estate,’ he told the Landaid-organised hustings at Central Hall, Westminster, in which candidates from all the main parties- apart from the Greens - took part.

Demolishing and remodelling estates could create 360,000 homes at no cost to the taxpayer, Goldsmith claimed.

His ambition to redevelop estates was opposed by Greens representative, Darren Johnson, a member of the London Assembly who stood in for the party’s candidate Siân Berry.

‘We don’t want to see estates demolished as under successive Labour and Tory councils,’ Johnson told the hustings. ‘There are perfectly decent council estates that just need a bit of care and we can in-fill and build up three storey buildings to five.’

Berry’s webpage includes a pledge ‘not to demolish estates in London’ under a banner that begins ‘condemning social cleansing’.

Labour candidate Sadiq Khan said his approach to tackling the capital’s housing crisis would focus on ensuring new homes were ‘genuinely affordable’ and offered first to Londoners rather than foreign investors.

The Liberal Democrat candidate Caroline Pidgeon said she would establish City Hall’s own house building firm and construction skills academy to accelerate housing supply.

She clashed with the Green’s Mr Johnson after claiming she would reinstate the council tax precept that helped fund the Olympics to boost the mayor’s housing budget.

While all ruled out green belt development, they offered varying views about Skyscrapers.

Khan said he had ‘nothing against tall buildings’ but echoed Historic England’s concerns about their potential impact on river views. ‘We need to be careful about the Thames,’ he said.

We need to be careful about the Thames

Goldsmith said he wanted residents to have a greater say over the height of new development. ‘Residents don’t want alienating buildings in their communities,’ he added.

The strongest views on tall buildings came from Pidgeon. ‘I don’t want to see another Walkie Talkie or Cheese Grater [which] are, quite frankly, a blight on the Skyline,’ she said


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Considering that this is the Mayoral debate, and the subject was housing, was there no discussion of TfL's recently announced framework partnerships with a clump of big developers to realise the value of TfL's spare railway land?
    There must surely be a myriad of small plots unattractive to the big developers - and thus of limited value to TfL - but ideal for Segal-style small scale interventions to create affordable housing - desperately needed in London, and surely a far more important cause than Joanna Lumley's garden bridge, which TfL is funding to the tune of £30 million (and counting). I wonder if Zac is another Boris-style politician, with both eyes on the 'main chance' and an inclination to sweep stark reality under the carpet?
    From the point of view of the architectural profession (and, hopefully, the architectural establishment) such an initiative would provide the opportunity for young, socially motivated practices to rise to the challenge of creating housing fit for humans, Segal-style.

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