Southwark Council is to challenge the decision blocking the compulsory purchase of eight homes on its Aylesbury Estate, saying the move ’jeopardises’ the entire housing-led regeneration scheme
Last week communities secretary Sajid Javid backed a planning inspector who said the bid to buy out the residents who had previously bought their homes from the London council under the right-to-buy policy would breach their human rights (see documents at bottom).
Javid said that the council had tabled ‘extremely low valuations’ to compensate leaseholders for their properties and quashed a request for a compulsory purchase of the homes earmarked for the demolition as part of the first phase of the redevelopment – 830 homes designed by HTA Design.
However, Southwark Council branded Javid’s decision ‘bizarre’, attacked the government’s inconsistent approach to estate regeneration and warned that the whole scheme could be scuppered by the ruling.
The authority has threatened to go to the High Court to seek judicial review of the decision if Javid does not rethink the decision, saying that it was unwilling to use any more taxpayers’ money to raise its offer to the remaining residents.
Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, said: ‘This decision puts Southwark and all councils who are trying to build new homes for our residents between a rock and hard place. We can either fight this decision or scrap our plans to regenerate the Aylesbury estate, leaving the hopes and dreams of thousands of local people in tatters. I’m not willing to do that, which is why we will take court action if necessary to try to overturn this bizarre decision.’
He added: ‘I honestly don’t know what the government’s policy is on estate regeneration any more, as they say one thing and do another. By this decision they are jeopardising plans for 800 new homes for Londoners. Of course the human rights of our residents are important, which is why each of the remaining resident leaseholders has been offered a brand new home in the same area, rent-free, and with a shared equity arrangement which protects the money they’ve saved and invested. I’m afraid that we can’t just keep offering them more and more taxpayers’ money.’
John said that the borough would continue with its regeneration of other parts of the site – a huge estate of about 2,700 homes designed by Hans Peter ‘Felix’ Trenton and completed in 1977 that were ’not affected by this decision.’
Javid’s unexpected ruling on the Aylesbury estate has made national headlines and caused many to look at what the decision could mean for other, similar regeneration schemes.
Although Javid admitted the scheme was viable and would brings economic and social benefits to the south London area, he also raised concerns about what a compulsory purchase order would actually mean for elderly residents and black and ethnic minority residents who ‘would be likely to be disproportionately affected’ because they would have less ability to retain cultural ties if they had to move.
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 scheme has been on the drawing board for a number of years and the council voted to grant planning permission for the redevelopment the site and outline planning permission for the remainder of the estate in April 2015. The wider proposals range from low-rise terraces to towers of up to 20 storeys, and feature elements designed by HTA, Mae, Hawkins\Brown and Duggan Morris (see AJ 25.07.16).
The permitted first phase includes the demolition of the existing buildings and redevelopment of the Order Land to provide 830 mixed-tenure dwellings, a flexible community use/early years facility or gym, plus public and private open space.