Local residents and communities should be consulted before existing housing estates are demolished or redeveloped according to new guidance published today by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The regeneration of council and housing association estates has been controversial as many schemes have led to a reduction in the number of homes available at social rent levels, forcing residents either to leave their community or pay far higher rents for the replacement homes.
Today’s guidance, which will be consulted on before being officially adopted, says all tenants should have the right to return to their estate and pay “the same or similar” level of rent as they did for their old property.
In addition, the guidance says landlords and developers should aim to ensure households only move once during the regeneration process to minimise disruption.
Mr Khan said: “When done well, regeneration can be a positive way of protecting and improving housing estates in our great city. It offers the chance to improve the quality of housing and nearby public space, as well as building more and new affordable homes.
“Many councils are developing good practice in examples of estate regenerations across the capital – through this guide, I want to bring together the approaches that have worked well.
“I hope this guide will help to show that when local residents are involved from the start, and when key principles are followed, estate regeneration can help us build a city for all Londoners.”
Although the guidance is not legally binding, City Hall says it will form part of the conditions for any schemes it helps to fund.
However Sian Berry, a Green party member of the London Assembly and housing campaigner, says the document “reads like a manual for councils to get their demolition plans through” without properly involving local residents.
Ms Berry branded the document’s provisions “vague and more or less useless” for neighbourhoods seeking to hold councils to account for planning decisions.
She commented: Even the Government produced more useful guidelines last week, which set out clear steps for landlords and councils in a way that was at least specific and transparent, even if it didn’t give practical power to residents to make their own plans.
“This draft from the Mayor actually tells councils not to waste their time consulting on ‘nonviable’ options when the right time to go to residents is before you have developed any options at all.
“It actively discourages councils from using ballots and its definition of a meaningful final say is for councils to ‘consider views’ and then explain why they’re going ahead anyway.
“The gaping hole in these guidelines is any way for residents to propose their own ideas and have these assessed.
“I have been asking the Mayor to provide expertise and grants for residents to get involved in planning at an early stage and develop their own proposals but this principle is nowhere to be seen.”