Lewisham: Estate residents vote in favour of council’s regeneration plans

Lewisham: Estate residents vote in favour of council’s regeneration plans

Residents of a council-owned housing estate in Lewisham have voted overwhelmingly in favour of regeneration plans for their homes in a ballot that was completed yesterday.

Lewisham says 73 per cent of eligible residents of the Achilles estate in New Cross voted in favour of its plans to see the current estate buildings replaced by around 450 new ones, of which half will be “affordable” and include properties allocated to existing residents on the same contractual terms with no increase in rent.

The outcome is the seventh estate resident ballot conducted as a condition of receiving financial support for redevelopment schemes from London Mayor Sadiq Khan under rules he introduced last summer. All seven have produced outcomes in favour of landlords’ demolition and rebuild proposals.

Balloting of Achilles estate residents began on 18 October. Lewisham says turnout was 92 per cent and that this was the highest of all seven ballots in London so far.

Lewisham says the 450 new homes, to be built by its housing company Lewisham Homes, will comprise 225 for market sale, the profits from which will contribute to paying for 49 to replace those to be demolished and an additional 109 for social rent at the Mayor’s London Affordable Rent level, which is the equivalent of what new social rent levels would be had the government not ordered successive annual one per cent reductions between 2015 and 2019. Others will also be for rent at social rent levels or the Mayor’s London Living Rent low cost home ownership tenure, depending on the overall finances of the scheme.

Lewisham is the third London council to secure a “yes” vote in an estate regeneration ballot under Khan’s requirement. Last month, 84 per cent of residents of the 1,400-home South Kilburn estate in Brent voted in favour of their council’s regeneration plans. Ealing Council won a ballot for a smaller estate last December. The other four ballots have been for housing association tenants of estates in Lambeth, Barnet, Greenwich and Bromley.

The ballot requirement was introduced into the Mayor’s best practice guide for estate regenerations having been absent from the draft version following pressure from some on the Left, the Green Party and activist groups opposed to estate redevelopments. However, a question remains over whether some potential regeneration schemes have not been taken forward because landlords fear the necessary ballot would be lost. The Mayor has expressed concern that Wandsworth Council has failed to seek funding from him on those grounds.

Responding the the Achilles estate ballot result, Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan said: “I’m pleased residents have overwhelmingly backed our proposals, which will not only mean all current residents get a new home but we will be able to build up to 150 new council homes too. The ballot process has successfully engaged residents in the redevelopment proposals and we will continue to work with them as we begin work on building the homes Lewisham needs.”

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