Under pressure from housing campaigns, in July London Mayor Sadiq Khan agreed that residents of estates threatened with demolition should have a democratic vote on the future of those estates.
However there is a lot of devil in the detail. The residents ballot requirement only applies to schemes that have GLA funding — although the GLA could have used its powers to ensure all estates under redevelopment could have a ballot.
On 3 November residents from 34 estates that are threatened with demolition, but fall outside the rules for ballots, will protest outside London City Hall.
The background to all this is the major programme of demolition and redevelopment of council estates in London which has been going on for over a decade. As the organisers of the 2 November protest explain:
“There are 31,000 residents who will be affected by demolition on 118 estates in the next decade. Nearly 8,000 homes will definitely be lost, and the total could eventually be much greater. Nothing less than a big land grab is going on all over London. This means the building of luxury flats instead of secure Council homes at low rents.”
The GLA and local councils say they want greater numbers of new homes at social rents. But again the devil is in the detail.
Take the example of one scheduled demolition and redevelopment in Lewisham: the demolition of Reginald House and “reclaiming” of Tidemill Community Garden in Deptford.
Campaigners there say that while all the lost tenancies will be at council rents, new tenancies will be at London Affordable Rents — 63% higher than council rents, or in other words out of the range of many people on council waiting lists.
Occupiers at Tidemill Garden, trying to save the Garden from the bulldozers, were evicted by police and bailiffs, under orders from Lewisham council, on 29 October.
Where ballots are due to take place residents will need to make sure that they are organised fairly and framed in such a way to give residents a comprehensive oversight on the future of a local community — for example the full disclosure on types of homes, rent levels and types of tenancy being planned.
Fifty London estates with over 30,000 homes have undergone regeneration schemes in the past decade. There has been a net loss of over 8,000 socially-rented homes. Only 13% of planning approvals in 2015/16 were affordable homes.
More info here