Councils and developers wanting City Hall funding will need to hold a mandatory ballot of residents before knocking down existing housing estates under new rules announced by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Many redevelopments of existing estates have proven controversial with both residents and housing campaigners concerned at potential reductions in the level of social housing available.
While the Mayor has no general power to order landholders to ballot residents, his new rules will make holding a ballot a binding condition of receiving City Hall grants and funding for a scheme.
Announcing them, Mr Khan said: “I want to make sure people living on social housing estates, who have the greatest interest in their future, are at the heart of any decisions from the outset.
“By involving residents and putting social housing first, we can make sure plans for estate regeneration help build a city for all Londoners.”
The Mayor’s announcement has been welcomed by Tom Copley, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson on the London Assembly, who said: “Estate regeneration when done well can deliver better quality homes and more affordable housing.
“But without resident support, schemes can face being blighted from the start. I’m pleased that the Mayor has listened to community groups, as well as the unanimous voice of the London Assembly.”
However he called on the Mayor to go further and ensure that those tenants renting former local authority homes on estates are also balloted, “rather than the non-resident landlords they rent from.”
Green party Assembly Member Sian Berry, who has previously criticised the Mayor’s approach to estate regeneration, said: “He has been slow to bring out his guidance – but I am glad he has listened to the thousands of Londoners who wrote to him and made sure they will have a meaningful say over any plans.
“We’ve already seen councils stop using ballots after the Mayor’s weak draft guidance actually cautioned against them – I hope these policies are brought back and every council in London adopts the guidance.
“It’s only fair that if your home faces demolition that you can vote against bad plans. Councils and developers who have engaged residents from the very start of drawing up plans would have nothing to fear.”
However there was criticism from Conservative AM Andrew Boff who said today’s announcement “falls well short” of what Mr Khan’s election pledge to:
“Require that estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation, and that demolition is only permitted where it does not result in a loss of social housing, or where other all options have been exhausted, with full rights to return for displaced tenants and a fair deal for leaseholders.”
and suggested that his actions have been dictated by Labour’s internal politics, including Mr Khan’s need to be reselected as the party’s 2020 Mayoral candidate.
He said: “In almost two years as Mayor, Sadiq Khan has consistently flip-flopped on this issue and refused to be drawn.
“The fact he’s finally settled on a position in favour just weeks before his potential re-selection smacks of pure cynicism and self-interest.”
“There is a debate to be had about how regeneration plans are put forward but Sadiq Khan’s stance is motivated purely by how far it could propel his career.”