Strong support for estate regeneration plans in capital’s first residents ballot under Sadiq Khan rules

Strong support for estate regeneration plans in capital’s first residents ballot under Sadiq Khan rules

Residents of a housing estate in Barnet have voted heavily in favour of plans to demolish and replace their homes in the first ballot held to meet new funding criteria set down by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Nearly three quarters of the inhabitants of the Westhorpe Gardens and Mills Grove estate who took part in the ballot favoured the proposals of their landlord, the Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTVH) housing association, to replace the estate’s existing 102 social rented dwellings with approximately 250 new homes, including replacements for 87 flats and 15 houses to be knocked down.

Close to two thirds of the 108 eligible estate residents turned out for the ballot, which was administered by Electoral Reform Services. All residents over the age of 16 were allowed to vote. Only one resident was ineligible, as she moved in after the landlord offer was published. There are no resident leaseholders on the estate.

The additional 150 homes MTVH intends to build on the site primarily comprise a mix of two other “affordable” housing types  – the Mayor’s London affordable rent and shared ownership – and 30 market sale properties designed for over-55s “retirement living”.

The ballot was conducted between 15 October and 5 November, following what MTVH describes as “a series of local community consultation events, attended by more than 60 per cent of residents”, including exhibitions, drop-in sessions and door-to-door canvassing to gather ideas for the regeneration.

The outcome has been welcomed by MTVH chief executive Geeta Nanda and by the Councillor Dan Thomas, who chairs Barnet Council’s assets, regeneration and growth committee. Both Nanda and Thomas have stressed their view that resident input into the plans has been significant.

James Murray, London’s deputy mayor for housing and residential development, said that ballots are “at the heart” of Mayor Khan’s approach to estate regeneration, enabling residents to have “a real say when regeneration is planned for where they live”. He added that “with a majority in favour”, City Hall looked forward to working with MTVH to build better quality homes for existing residents and additional ones too.

The introduction of the ballot requirement by Mayor Khan into his regeneration good practice guide, having not included it in the draft version, was seen by some as a concession to an anti-regeneration mood among Labour Party members and party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent support for the Momentum-led campaign that led to the scrapping of Haringey Council’s plans to redevelop council-owned property, including housing estates, through a joint venture with leading commercial developer Lendlease.

The Mayor’s move was not popular with some housing associations and borough leaders, who fear that ballot processes will be hijacked by political activists and add to the costs of redevelopment and slow it down. A ballot called by Haringey to determined whether current residents of the Love Lane estate in Tottenham, including those placed there temporarily, wish its regeneration scheme, part of a separate partnership with Lendlease, to continue has led to local campaigns by groups with differing views.

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