Campaigners to hold protest against controversial estate demolition

By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter

Campaigners against Lambeth Council’s controversial estate regeneration programme are set to hold a protest next Friday (June 4). 

The protest, organised by Save Central Hill Estate, will be held outside Lambeth Town Hall from 2pm to 6pm.  

According to the event description: “Lambeth Council are demolishing perfectly sound council housing to use the space for unaffordable, high-end flats that do not provide for the homeless – those it claims to be helping. 

“It uses unfounded arguments to keep on with its plans despite community objections. 

“Show your support. Stand by communities and demand real affordable housing for everyone. 

“The environment’s resources are being wasted in a time of climate crisis on investment homes and not real homes for anyone.” 

The council’s regeneration programme, run by its wholly owned housing company Homes for Lambeth (HfL), is focused on six estates, including Westbury, Knights Walk, South Lambeth, Central Hill, Cressingham Gardens, and Fenwick. 

In March it emerged that the council had loaned a further £5.5 million to HfL, added to £5 million loaned last year. 

It came as a progress report on Homes for Lambeth’s business plan for 2020-23, approved by cabinet on March 15, stated a lack of resident support was a “likely” risk to its regeneration programme. 

The loaned money is expected to be paid back out of “project surpluses”, profit made from the new homes. 

But the Green opposition, who are against the demolition of the estates, have warned it is a risky strategy and HfL could end up like Croydon’s failing housing company Brick by Brick. 

According to the council the programme “remains financially viable”, despite the risks outlined in the report. 

The risks include lack of support from residents (likely), failure to deliver the HfL regeneration programme (likely), potential impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic (very likely), impact of Brexit on the availability of labour and minerals (likely), and a change in regulatory or subsidy regime (very likely).

Housing lead Cllr Matthew Bennett’s foreword in the HfL business plan cites homelessness statistics as the reason for the estate regeneration programme.  

London is facing a severe housing crisis.  

“In Lambeth this means that over 30,000 people are on the council’s waiting list for social housing and over 2,000 homeless families, including some 5,000 children are provided with temporary accommodation by Lambeth Council every night,” he said.  

A spokesperson for the council said: “Lambeth was the first London borough to declare a climate emergency.  

“HfL will not only meet Lambeth’s high environmental and energy standards for new homes but will go beyond these with a new set of commitments to monitoring and auditing carbon as part of new developments and designing homes to use less energy as part of our commitment to tackling fuel poverty.”  

He also said that a formal consultation carried out in 2016 “showed that 55 per cent of council tenants supported the proposal to completely rebuild the estate”.  

“A majority of homeowners and private tenants opposed the proposal,” he added.  

 

 

 


 

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