Criteria for Estate Demolition: ASH response to Lambeth Labour Council

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In October 2012, Lambeth Cabinet agreed the development of a Lambeth Estate Regeneration Programme, according to which any council estates meeting one or more of the following criteria would be eligible for demolition:

1. ‘Where the costs of delivering the Lambeth Housing Standard would be too expensive and would not be good value for money.’

2. ‘Where the Lambeth Housing Standard works would, in themselves, not address the fundamental condition of the homes nor address many of the wider social and economic problems faced by residents.’

3. ‘Where the wider benefits from regeneration would justify the investment. This includes where the existing estate is relatively low-density and where there is an opportunity to create additional much needed new homes.’[1]

It is typical of Lambeth Council’s cavalier approach to estate demolition that the text of these criteria, which will determine the futures of thousands of borough residents, vary in their definitions according to where and when they appear on the Council’s website. The version shown to residents of Knight’s Walk in March 2015, for example, substituted ‘prohibitive’ for ‘not good value for money’, ‘issues’ for ‘problems’, ‘affordable homes’ (defined as up to 80 per cent of market rate) for ‘much needed homes’, and omitted ‘low density’ (which it fails to define) as a criterion.

Nevertheless, in their broad outlines these criteria for demolition are common enough, shared by most, if not all, estate demolition programmes in London and across England, as they are by many of the solutions that have been put forward by Central Government, local authorities, housing associations, think tanks and property developers to address the so-called housing ‘crisis’. However, part of the problem faced by those of us resisting estate demolition is that the premises of these criteria have never been challenged. To do so, I want to explore the realities behind these statements in detail, and demonstrate why they are not only untrue, but in many aspects the exact opposite of the truth.

1. ‘The costs of delivering the Lambeth Housing Standard would be too expensive and would not be good value for money.’

Despite its original claims, in March 2012, that the Lambeth Housing Standard was both ‘realistic’ and ‘affordable’, Lambeth Labour Council, by its own admission, is now unable to apply this higher standard of refurbishment to all its housing stock.[2] It was financially irresponsible of it, therefore, to establish the higher refurbishment requirements of the Lambeth Housing Standard ‘beyond’ Central Government’s required Decent Homes Standard. If the increased costs of achieving the Lambeth Housing Standard means that the Council is now unable to fund the refurbishment of the estates it was supposedly meant to benefit, and is being used, instead, to justify their recourse to demolishing them, this Standard – which has turned Lambeth Labour Council’s ‘Regeneration Programme’ into a ‘Demolition Programme’ – is clearly completely out of all proportion with the actual maintenance needs of the homes of the residents that live on those estates.

Lambeth Labour Council’s plans, moreover, to demolish Central Hill estate, to take one example, and rebuild what, according to its own survey, are perfectly structurally sound buildings, represents anything but ‘good value for money’. At an average construction cost of around £240,000 per home – a figure provided by Karakusevic Carson, the architectural practice working on another of Lambeth Council’s estate regeneration schemes – rebuilding the 456 existing homes alone would cost at least £120 million. That’s before a single extra flat has been added. Refurbishing the existing homes, by contrast, has been estimated – again by Lambeth Council’s own surveyor – at around £18.5 million, £6 million of which was already allocated to refurbishing interiors up to the Decent Homes Standard, and therefore covered by a Central Government grant. The actual cost of refurbishing Central Hill estate, therefore, is £12.5 million, nearly a tenth the cost of knocking it down and rebuilding it. How can be this construed as ‘good value for money’?

The new homes might have a longer lifespan than the current ones when they are refurbished, but this is not always or necessarily true, as illustrated by the forthcoming demolition of a block of 48 homes in Peckham built by Wandle Housing a mere six years ago.[3] What is true, however, is that the structural quality of the existing council homes is extremely high. Far from being the ‘broken homes’ denigrated by Lambeth Labour Council, Central Hill was a celebrated estate at the time it was built, a mere forty years ago, and its design and build quality was published extensively in journals on structural engineering.[4] While Victorian terraces continue to serve as housing for much of London, it is completely unjustified to pull down post-war housing estates that have decades of use before them, when there is such a shortage of housing in which Londoners can genuinely afford to live.

It is unclear, moreover, how Lambeth Labour Council’s demolition plans have taken into account its fiduciary duty to the Council Tax payer. Central Hill estate, which recently passed its fortieth birthday, would have recently paid off its construction debts. Contrary to the propaganda circulated about council housing, it is not subsidised by the State; and when rent revenues on the estate could actually be making money for Lambeth, its demolition would put the Council in greater debt to the private investors in building its hugely expensive replacement.

In the current housing climate the risk to Lambeth Labour Council associated with borrowing is extremely high. In their report on regeneration, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recommends low-risk developments that take account of the economic uncertainty in housing.[5] Even according to the Department of Communities and Local Government, in the report it produced following the financial crisis of 2008, smaller, short-term projects are far better suited to volatility in the housing market; and the same applies to the similar level of uncertainty attending London’s forming housing bubble, which is due to burst in 2017, and the reduced investment in luxury apartments following the referendum vote to leave the European Union.[6]

Lambeth Labour Council’s mantra of ‘More and Better Homes’, which it repeats at every opportunity, inevitably provokes the question (which it repeatedly refuses to answer): ‘More and better homes for whom?’ The issue of housing quality is regularly trumpeted by both architectural practices and the Royal Institute of British Architects; but the housing ‘crisis’ is not a crisis of design quality, which the unfounded denigration of council estates such as Central Hill seeks to propagate, but of affordability. It doesn’t take a genius to realise this; only someone trying to buy a home. According to a poll of would-be home-buyers published in The Guardian, it is the lack of low-cost housing, not of high-quality housing, that is the biggest concern for residents.[7]

In this crisis of ‘affordability’, it is important to remember that the existing council homes on the six estates threatened by Lambeth Labour Council are some of the only genuinely affordable housing left in the borough. Demolishing them and replacing them with higher value, less affordable housing, will do nothing to address the housing needs of Lambeth residents. As we know, so called ‘affordable housing’, rented or sold at up to 80 per cent of market rate, is simply not affordable to the majority of the residents of the Central Hill, Cressingham Gardens, Westbury, Fenwick, South Lambeth and Knight’s Walk estates; and the emphasis of architects on build quality only reinforces this so-called ‘requirement’ to replace anything that doesn’t conform to contemporary standards, whatever the cost to the residents whose homes will be demolished as a consequence.

In what way does the replacement of low-cost homes with high-value apartments benefit either the existing residents or the wider Lambeth community? It’s clearly to the benefit of Lambeth Labour Council, as the new, higher income residents will pay higher council taxes and higher service charges, while generally making lower demands on council services. But the so-called ‘improvements’ on the estate will have a negative economic impact on the local neighbourhood, including increasing rents and house prices in the surrounding area.

Of course, according to Savills, the real estate firm that is advising Lambeth and numerous other Labour Councils in Greater London, this is precisely the purpose of estate demolition, which it conceives of as a form of active gentrification, driving out not only council tenants, but poorer households in the neighbourhood.[8] Home-owners might welcome such increases in UK property values, which now constitutes an economy in itself; but private renters and those trying to buy a home will not. This illustrates the clear divide in the way in which estate redevelopment will affect renters and home-owners, and why estate regeneration is such a politically divisive issue.

Since Lambeth Labour Council, by all accounts, is heading for bankruptcy, due to a combination of Central Government cuts and its own financial mismanagement, the demolition of low-cost homes and their replacement with high-value housing – developed, built, sold and purchased by a range of private contractors – also benefits it in another way. Having no access to additional resources in its Housing Revenue account, private investment is the only means the Council has of getting its hands on the funds it needs to build the ‘1000 council houses by 2018’ it promised as part of Lambeth Labour’s 2014 election manifesto.[9] It’s worth noting that, according to both the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor Matthew Bennett, in his ongoing Twitter statements, and the newly elected ward councillor for Gipsy Hill, Luke Murphy, in his 2016 election promises, Lambeth Council still maintains it is proposing to build council homes. The truth, however, is that because of the lack on funds in Lambeth Council’s Housing Revenue Account, it is unable to build council homes. As a consequence, Lambeth Labour Council is currently in the process of setting up, under the management of Savills, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Homes for Lambeth, a private company to which, once the existing council homes are demolished, the local authority land will be transferred, and private investors approached to fund the new developments on the six council estates. However, far from building council homes, all tenancies on the new developments will be changed from ‘secure’ council tenancies to ‘assured’ social tenancies, with rents increased by up to 25 per cent, and tenants’ Right to Buy withdrawn.

In post-Brexit UK, with the potential uncertainty of increased debt for private investors in the SPV, the council must take account of the financial risks being taken with such a large scheme, and compare it with the low risk associated with the ASH proposals for infill and refurbishment on Central Hill estate, which will cost a fraction of the price of demolition and redevelopment.[10] Residents are rightly concerned about the long-term security of their homes under the un-tested arrangement of Homes for Lambeth, which, with the votes of Lambeth Labour Council, its Cabinet, and the Board of Homes for Lambeth, can be sold into private ownership in five years’ time. Since this is the same Labour Cabinet that has consistently voted to demolish the six council estates, since councillors who dissent from the Labour Party line are disciplined and suspended, and since the Chair of Homes for Lambeth will be the same Cabinet Member for Regeneration who is responsible for signing off the demolition of their estates, council residents understandably have little confidence in who will own the housing association in the future. The fact that no resident ballot or involvement has been permitted in this management scheme, or in any future decisions about the estates, has created huge uncertainty in residents’ minds about the security of their homes. All this, supposedly, because of a ‘requirement’ to bring their homes up to the Lambeth Housing Standard.

2. ‘The Lambeth Housing Standard works would, in themselves, not address the fundamental condition of the homes nor address many of the wider social and economic problems faced by residents.’

Nowhere in Lambeth Labour Council’s criterion does it state what the ‘fundamental condition’ of the properties that cannot be addressed by refurbishment must be in order to justify their demolition, and how the Labour Council arrived at this undeclared definition that will consign thousands of council homes to the bulldozer. Was this achieved through resident consultation? If it was, how many residents took part in the research? And how objective are the findings? Or does it rely on, for example, an unidentified photograph on Councillor Matthew Bennett’s blog, together with the declaration that Central Hill estate is ‘broken’? [11] A statement as loosely phrased as the one Lambeth Labour Council has put forward here as a criterion for demolishing an estate needs to be first defined, and then verified with evidence, if it is to serve as a criterion for demolishing the homes of thousands of people.

The unsubstantiated implication of this statement is that there is a direct relationship between the architecture of an estate and what it loosely terms the ‘wider social and economic problems of the residents’, as if this too were apparent and requires no evidence. There has been considerable criticism in the media of the rhetoric of ‘sink estates’; and the imputation by politicians of a causal relationship between architecture and crime, anti-social behaviour and even rioting has been widely challenged in academic and architectural circles.[12] There is nothing objective about such emotive and unsubstantiated rhetoric, and the ideological motives and potential conflicts of interest in both Central Government plans to ‘Blitz’ 100 sink estates, and local authority programmes to demolish its own council housing, must be rationally assessed when weighing up the arguments for and against estate demolition.

By the same token, what exactly are the ‘wider social and economic problems’ of the residents? How has Lambeth Labour Council arrived at these perceptions? What research has been conducted, how, and by whom? And even if they exist, for which Lambeth Council has provided absolutely no evidence, how can the demolition and rebuilding of homes address such social and economic problems?

Contrary to the widely accepted opinion, which this statement relies on, that estate regeneration will improve the economic situations of the residents, the increased rents, service charges and council tax rates estate regeneration inflicts upon the community only worsen the economic position of the existing residents. Indeed, recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown that estate regeneration does not improve the life of existing residents – quite the contrary.[13] On the Myatts Field North regeneration, for example, another Lambeth Labour Council disaster, the increased financial burdens of regeneration are beyond what many previous residents of the estate are able to afford.[14] Here, as elsewhere in the assumptions made about estate communities, the truth about regeneration is the exact opposite of what has become accepted as unquestioned dogma.

In terms of changes to the social lives of the residents, the proximity of friends, family and neighbours with whom relationships have been built up over generations is something that does have clear social and economic benefits to the residents and the wider community, in the form or support networks and informal community support. Neighbourliness has a positive social and economic effect on the community, and the crime rate on Central Hill, as on nearly all housing estates – and, once again, contrary to the deliberate falsehoods spread about them – is lower than the surrounding areas. This is a clear indicator of a healthy and strong community, not a ‘broken’ one, as Lambeth Council claims. Lower income families and the elderly rely on informal economic networks such as neighbourliness for babysitting, help with the shopping, caring for elderly residents, and other social ‘services’ they cannot afford to buy. But it is precisely these that will be broken through the demolition of their estate and the breaking up of the community.

Those residents who – because they cannot afford either the increased rents or the increased costs associated with shared ownership, which effectively means paying rent on the percentage of a property they don’t own – will be obliged to move out of the area, or those residents who are unable to transfer their mortgages onto the new properties, will lose all the benefits of being a part of a community. Their children will potentially be forced to change, or make far longer journeys to, their schools, both of which can affect their mental health, education and relationships. But it is, perhaps, the elderly and disabled will be perhaps the most negatively affected, being forced to change doctors, and losing the connections with neighbours and family and potentially carers that are crucial to their health and peace of mind. Indeed, the stress and effects on the mental health of every resident affected by losing their homes and community can result in depression, the loss of employment and other breakdowns in the social fabric, as the ongoing threat of losing their homes to demolition is already demonstrating on the estates threatened by Lambeth Labour Council.

In addition to its impact on the mental and physical well-being of the dispersed community, the disruption of estate demolition will inevitably have financial consequences that will eventually be borne by the State in the form of an increase in benefits and the knock-on costs associated with a decline in health. Both of these will increase demand on welfare and health services. Academic research at the London School of Economics and Political Science has shown that the stresses associated with estate regeneration can result in increased cases of illness and early death; and the sad truth, for which Lambeth Labour Council should be held legally accountable, is that many elderly residents – of which there are a disproportionately large number on council estates – are likely to die during a demolition and redevelopment process that could last up to ten years.[15]

The adverse mental health effects of austerity have been analysed and recorded in research by Psychologists Against Austerity, and the conditions they identify are remarkably similar to the effects of estate regeneration. ‘Humiliation and shame’, ‘fear and distrust’, ‘instability and insecurity’, ‘isolation and loneliness’, ‘feeling trapped and powerless’ – all are daily experiences for those living under the threat of estate demolition, as residents will confirm if Lambeth Council had the courtesy to listen to them.[16] In contrast, the indicators of a psychologically healthy society – ‘agency, security, connection, meaning and mutual trust’ – are all being eroded, if not destroyed, by Lambeth Council’s estate demolition programme.

In a statement that encapsulates the indifference and arrogance of Lambeth’s Labour Cabinet, at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting for the decision to demolish Cressingham Gardens estate, Councillor Matthew Bennett offered the opinion that the anticipated increase in the rent and other outgoings of tenants could be covered by housing benefit. Quite apart from the fact that housing benefit is about to be cut to levels that is expected to drive hundreds of thousands of private renters into homelessness, this reveals that Lambeth Labour Council expects the increased cost of the properties they are proposing to build through Homes for Lambeth to be paid for by the tax-payer in the form of housing benefit taken from the coffers of Central Government. No doubt this, too, is another motivation for them demolishing the source of their current rent revenues. The reality, however, is that this insulting suggestion, which was met with outrage and disbelief by residents, is no solution at all. Rather, households unable to meet their new, hugely increased outgoings will be forced into cheaper accommodation elsewhere in Lambeth, or even, as the Labour Council is already encouraging them to do, to move outside the borough altogether.

From what we have been told, we understand that animals will not be permitted in the proposed new development for Central Hill, making it very difficult for residents with pets – often an essential source of companionship and comfort to the elderly – to continue to live on the estate, even if by some miracle they can afford to exercise their Right to Return. And the amenities – currently enjoyed by the majority of the residents – of a south-facing front garden and a city-facing balcony, will, similarly, no longer be available to them. Indeed, it is difficult to see how any aspect of the demolition and redevelopment of Central Hill estate can be seen as improving either the social or the economic well-being of the residents, according to Lambeth Council’s own stated criterion.[17]

As for the so-called ‘fundamental conditions’ of the homes Lambeth Council has neglected to maintain for decades while lining the pockets of its officers with ever increasing salaries, they are nothing of the kind.[18] Internal problems in the homes, such as leaking ceilings, mould and condensation, most of which have been caused by poor or inadequate maintenance of windows and roofs, can be easily addressed through refurbishment, and are in no way a justification for demolition. In the few cases of overcrowding, we have shown that, with an accurate survey of housing needs, the provision of some smaller homes for those households that are currently in under-occupied homes will free up some of the larger homes. As demonstrated by the number of people being forced to pay the Government’s debilitating bedroom tax, there is a shortage of one-bedroom homes in Lambeth; and combined with the addition of some larger homes for those households currently living in overcrowded homes, the housing needs of all the residents can be satisfied without the need to demolish their estate.

If PRP Architects, the practice employed by Lambeth Labour Council supposedly to explore the options for the regeneration of Central Hill estate, had genuinely looked at addressing these issues, rather than simply accepting, apparently without question, the Council’s brief to justify its demolition, they would have told them the same thing. But they didn’t.

3. ‘The wider benefits from regeneration would justify the investment. This includes where the existing estate is relatively low-density and where there is an opportunity to create additional much needed new homes.’

It is far from apparent what the ‘wider benefits’ of demolition are that cannot be achieved through infill and refurbishment. On the contrary, through the design of our alternative plan – which shows that it is possible to add around 200 new homes plus communal facilities to the estate without demolishing a single existing home – ASH has demonstrated that it is possible to increase housing capacity by nearly 45 per cent, and make all the improvements necessary to the estate – again, without the need for demolition.

The demolition of Central Hill estate, like that of the other five estates Lambeth Labour Council currently threatens, would in fact have a hugely negative impact on the surrounding neighbourhood of Crystal Palace, both environmentally and on the health of residents of the estates and the surrounding area. Demolition and disposal of the concrete, brick and masonry would result in significant and harmful amounts of embodied carbon being released into the atmosphere. At a London Assembly investigation in July 2014 into the respective benefits of refurbishment versus demolition, Chris Jofeh, Director of the engineering company Arups, said: ‘Demolition and rebuild emits a super amount of carbon dioxide, and even if you build super-efficient new homes it could take 30 years before you redress the balance. If we do take carbon targets seriously then refurbishment is an option which is much more likely to achieve those targets.’[19]

In a time of increasing awareness about climate change, demolition of housing estates is not something we should be undertaking lightly or, more importantly, unnecessarily. It goes against Lambeth Council’s own sustainability policy, as well as the recommendations of research produced by the London Assembly and University College London.[20] The polluting effects of demolition in the form of dust and noise on the immediate neighbourhood will also be significant, as will the effect of construction traffic on the surrounding roads. It is generally accepted by now that if asbestos is present in the buildings, it is preferable to leave it alone. Safe methods of stripping out and disposing of asbestos are often not observed, and Lambeth Labour Council has a poor reputation for following safe practice in such work. There is, consequently, little trust in the Council among residents on the estates and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

According to their own Local Plan, Lambeth Labour Council is supposedly committed to the efficient use and management of resources; yet the demolition of a thriving estate and community like Central Hill, or any of the other five Lambeth estates threatened, completely contradicts this commitment.[21] The current bio-diversity on the Central Hill site will not be protected, and certainly won’t be enhanced, by their demolition scheme, which threatens the majority of the estate’s trees; whereas the ASH proposal retains and supports the existing green spaces and wildlife. A longstanding community that takes care of their environment is key to the successful maintenance of public spaces, and destroying that community will destroy the space they currently look after, as the beautiful and well-tended gardens on the estate demonstrate, despite the Council’s ongoing policy of pulling down wall ivy, digging up roof gardens and cutting down trees as part of the managed decline of the estate. By contrast, the design proposals by PRP Architects, who have been employed by Lambeth Council to convince residents of the benefits of demolishing their homes, would completely block the protected view of the line of mature trees along Central Hill road with seven-storey blocks, as well as significantly interfering with the current views from Central Hill across London.

Further long-term negative effects include the added burden of an enormously increased resident population on local public services such as schools, health clinics and the already jammed roads on Central Hill. Lambeth Labour Council have not bothered to produce plans showing how they propose to mitigate these additional burdens on public facilities in the area. Nor have they come up with arguments to support the benefits of the increased population based on anything other than what it is possible to cram onto the estate site, regardless of the consequences for the Crystal Palace community.

As I observed at the beginning of this article, no definition of what constitutes ‘low density’ has been given in this criterion. That’s hardly surprising, since all the six estates threatened by Lambeth Labour Council are, in fact, low-rise, high-density housing. On the contrary, this is just another example of the web of falsehoods about council housing woven by the Council to justify its plans to the general public. As is clear from its collaboration with the real-estate firm Savills, from whom Lambeth Labour Council takes its language, its definitions and its direction, ‘high density’, like ‘high value’, is a barely disguised euphemism for ‘high profits’.

Finally, in terms of the architectural heritage of the estate and its value to future generations, Central Hill is a unique example of a period when Lambeth Labour Council had a socially ambitious architectural vision. Its application for listing to Historic England currently being made by the Twentieth Century Society is evidence of this status. As stated in the Council’s own Local Plan, Lambeth’s architectural heritage is important to the borough. But as the Council’s proposal to demolish the sheltered housing at 269 Leigham Court Road demonstrated – and which only its listing by Historic England saved – Lambeth Labour Council has neither an appreciation nor an understanding of the architecture of this period, which it seems bent on destroying for the profit of developers, real estates firms and its own councillors. It would be negligent of us in the extreme to entrust the future of our urban environment to a Council and a Cabinet that has repeatedly shown that they have no aesthetic judgement of the qualities of architecture, no ethical concern for the well-being of residents, and no moral sense of duty to the constituents who voted them into power. On the contrary, the wilful and unnecessary destruction of Lambeth’s council estates is nothing less than an act of vandalism, which we call on all residents of the London Borough of Lambeth to oppose.

Geraldine Dening
Architects for Social Housing

________________________________________________

Endnotes

[1] ‘Resident Engagement on the future of Central Hill’, http://estateregeneration.lambeth.gov.uk/central_hill_engagement

[2] See ‘Taking pride in you home – Lambeth Housing Standard’ (8 March 2012) http://housingmanagement.lambeth.gov.uk/site-search/text-content/8-march-2012-taking-pride-in-your-home-lambeth-housing-standard-505

[3] See Carl Brown, ‘Association to demolish new blocks due to defects’, Inside Housing (25 May, 2016) http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/association-to-demolish-new-blocks-due-to-defects/7015361.article

[4] See Peter Buckthorp, John Morrison, Peter Dunican and Fred Butler, The Structural Engineer (November 1974).

[5] See Jules Birch, ‘Estate Regeneration Briefing for expert panel’, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (12 May, 2016) https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/estate-regeneration-briefing-expert-panel

[6] See ‘Evaluation of Mixed Communities Initiative Demonstration Projects’, DCLG (2010) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6360/1775216.pdf

[7] See Tom Clark, ‘Affordability is Britons’ biggest housing concern, poll finds’ The Guardian (12 February, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/12/affordability-biggest-housing-concern-poll-high-rents

[8]. See Savills’ Research Report to the Cabinet Office, Completing London’s Streets: How the regeneration and intensification of housing estates could increase London’s supply of homes and benefit residents (7 January, 2016) http://pdf.euro.savills.co.uk/uk/residential—other/completing-london-s-streets-080116.pdf

[9] See Lambeth Talk (June 2014) http://love.lambeth.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/LambethTalk-JUNE-2014.pdf

[10] See Geraldine Dening, ‘Central Hill: The Alternative to Demolition’, Architects for Social Housing (30 May, 2016) https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/central-hill-the-alternative-to-demolition/

[11] See Matthew Bennett, ‘But if they are broken?’ (3 February, 2016) https://medium.com/@CllrMattBennett/but-if-they-are-broken-1a510cc53a59#.c67a00qg0

[12] See Victoria Pinoncely, ‘Sink estates are not sunk – they’re starved of funding’, The Guardian (11 May, 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/may/11/sink-estates-starved-funding-poverty-housing

[13] See Jules Birch, op cit.

[14] See Fanny Milenen, ‘Redeveloped into Fuel Poverty: The Story of Myatt’s Field North’, Novara Media (20 August, 2016) http://wire.novaramedia.com/2016/07/redeveloped-into-fuel-poverty-the-story-of-myatts-field-north/

[15] See Anne Power, ‘Council estates: why demolition is anything but the solution’, London School of Economics and Political Science (4 March, 2016) http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/sink-estates-demolition/

[16] Laura McGrath, Vanessa Griffin and Ed Mundy, ‘The Psychological Impact of Austerity’, Psychologists Against Austerity https://psychagainstausterity.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/paa-briefing-paper.pdf

[17] See Our 2020 Vision: Lambeth’s Sustainable Community Strategy http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sc-our-2020-vision.pdf

[18] Lambeth’s councillors are extremely reluctant to declare their pecuniary interests on the Council website, with Leader Lib Peck, Deputy Leader Paul McGlone, Member for Families Jane Pickard, Member for Housing Matthew Bennett, Member for Environment and Transport Jennifer Brathwaite, Member for Schools Jane Edbrooke, Member for Employment Sally Prentice, Member for Regeneration and Business Jack Hopkins, Member for Adult Social Care Jackie Meldrum, Member for Community Relations Donatus Anyanwu, and Chief Whip Paul Gadsby – which is to say, the entire Lambeth Cabinet – all unwilling to identify their land interests within the borough. Jim Dickson, Member for Health and the former Cabinet Leader, and the only name missing from this list, deserves a paragraph all to himself; but his company, Four Communications, is one of the most persuasive lobbyists of councils in pushing through controversial housing developments (http://35percent.org/2014-10-19-gamekeepers-turned-poachers/). Unfortunately, councillors are not obliged to declare earnings from their positions in the private companies with which the councils they represent do business; but the Taxpayer’s Alliance has revealed that Lambeth Council’s Strategic Director of Regeneration, Sue Foster, is one of 5 Lambeth officers on a salary in excess of £150,000 (in her case nearly £180,000); and although we don’t have the exact details, Neil Vokes, Lambeth’s Assistant Director of Housing Regeneration, is more than likely to be one of no less than 32 Lambeth Council officers earning over £100,000 per annum. Should these be the salaries of public servants in a supposedly broke borough supposedly doing its best to find homes for the 22,000 households on its housing waiting list?

[19] See ‘London Assembly Investigates Refurbishment vs Demolition’, Better Elephant (11 July, 2014) http://betterelephant.org/blog/2014/07/11/london-assembly-investigation-into-housing-estate-refurbishment-and-demolition/

[20] See ‘Knock it down or do it up? The challenge of estate regeneration’, Greater London Authority (February 2015) https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gla_migrate_files_destination/KnockItDownOrDoItUp_0.pdf; and ‘Making Decisions on the Demolition or Refurbishment of Social Housing’ (June 2014) http://www.ucl.ac.uk/public-policy/for-policy-professionals/research-insights/Refurbishment_and_demolition_of_social_housing_FINAL.pdf

[21] See the ‘Lambeth Local Plan’ (September 2015) https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/pl-lambeth-local-plan-2015-web.pdf

 

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