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Southwark demands 'urgent meeting' with Communities chief over Aylesbury Estate

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Southwark Council has asked to meet with Communities and Local Government secretary Sajid Javid for talks on the regeneration of Aylesbury Estate, after a High Court ruling on compulsory purchase orders

The High Court has ruled that Southwark Council should be allowed to re-apply for a judicial review of the secretary of state’s decision to block the compulsory purchase of eight homes on the south London estate. 

But at a hearing on Wednesday (18 January) Judge Collins suggested that the two parties should meet before further legal action.

The High Court originally refused Southwark Council’s application for a judicial review in December, but the council appealed against the decision at an oral hearing. 

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 in September the CPO was blocked by Javid, who said the proposal would breach the residents’ human rights.

Javid agreed with the planning inspector, who found that the council had 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.

Javid also 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.

The decisions to date have been based in part on speculation and misunderstanding

Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, said: ‘This week a judge echoed our view that the decisions to date have been based in part on speculation and misunderstanding, and I would urge the secretary of state to listen to this impartial view, and meet with us to properly consider this important issue.

‘His decision threatens the future of homebuilding in London and across the country, and it deserves his full attention. We can also save the taxpayer considerable sums of money if we can resolve this without involving the courts. I have written to him to request an urgent meeting.’

It could take months for the High Court to issue a decision on Southwark’s new judicial review application. 

In December, the 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

Estate baseline

(HR 6,887)

(HR 6,887)
(HR 1,773)
(HR 8,660)
Early phases (L&Q) 148
(HR 541)
(HR 703)
(HR 591)
(HR 1,294)
NHH proposed FDS
and masterplan
(HR 5,023)
(HR 6,641)
(HR 6,739)
(HR 13,380)
Net change -778
(HR -1,323)
(HR +457)
(HR +5,557)
(HR +6,014)

Source: Aylesbury Now

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