At Cabinet on Monday, plans for the regeneration of Cressingham Gardens were approved.
It was a difficult meeting and emotions understandably ran high with residents and campaigners putting their case forcefully and eloquently.
However, I am convinced that what we are doing is the right thing for the estate and the right thing for Lambeth.
We are talking about people’s homes, so it's completely understandable that the community feels threatened. There is a strong sense of community on the estate. But this is something we want to strengthen, not destroy, by replacing homes that in some cases are in a very poor condition. We are also guaranteeing everyone a place back on the estate.
Nobody needs reminding that we are in the grip of a housing crisis. The numbers speak for themselves. The Tory-led Government has presided over the lowest level of housebuilding since the 1920s and cut the budget for affordable homes by 60%. There are 21,000 people on the waiting list in Lambeth and 2,000 families are in temporary accommodation.
We need more homes and, crucially, this development will increase the number of social housing units on Cressingham Gardens. As Dave Hill points out in his excellent piece on Cressingham, this is unusual – estate regeneration works normally result in a social housing loss.
The Estate Regeneration programme, of which this is a part, presents a golden opportunity to act in the face of the crisis. It has the potential to see hundreds of new properties made available for council rent and, where needed, existing homes brought up to a decent standard.
On Monday, I listened carefully to the views of residents, and as a result I amended our recommendations to take account of their concerns. As we move forward, I promised that the council would:
- Provide greater clarity to tenants, freeholders and leaseholders around tenancies, issues of shared equity and mortgage support
- Provide residents with meaningful opportunities to influence and shape the options that are on the table.
- Ensure that every effort is made to keep the community together and avoid relocation to temporary accommodation outside of the estate during the rebuilding work so residents’ family, work and travel routines are disrupted as little as possible.
Importantly, Cressingham will be a council development; it will not be sold to a private developer and the council is guaranteeing that all tenants on the estates will end up either in a new home, or a completely refurbished home. All homeowners, whose properties may be replaced, will be given the opportunity to keep living on the same estate.
Cllr Lib Peck
Leader of Lambeth Council