Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office has dismissed claims that he’s “rushed” to fund “dozens” of housing regeneration schemes before new rules requiring a mandatory ballot of residents come into effect.
Announced by Mr Khan in February, the new rules will apply to all future schemes hoping to secure City Hall funding and will ensure that residents living on estates due to be demolished will have a binding say on whether schemes go-ahead.
At last week’s Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan committed to not approving any further regenerations until the new rules come into effect later this year, an undertaking welcomed by Green party London Assembly member and housing campaigner Sian Berry.
However Ms Berry has since accused the Mayor of “concealing the fact he has recently rushed through funding for dozens of controversial schemes, allowing councils and housing associations to dodge his new policy.”
The claim is based on City Hall data showing that funding has been signed off for 34 estate regenerations over the past year, including 16 since December 1st 2017.
In a blog post, Berry accuses the Mayor of “a betrayal of the residents on these 34 estates” and claims the information “will also disappoint the Mayor’s wider electorate, who are just about to vote in local elections in London.”
She also writes: “This information paints a sorry picture, and is a harsh slap in the face to many residents on estates under threat who – thanks to his actions – will be denied a ballot at the last moment before his new policy comes in.
“They include the Fenwick, Cressingham Gardens, Knights Walk and other estates in Lambeth (though not Central Hill), Ham Close in Richmond, Cambridge Road in Kingston and the Aylesbury in Southwark .”
However Mr Khan’s office has accused the Assembly Member of pushing “a deliberately misleading interpretation of the facts.”
They added: “The Mayor made a firm public commitment not to sign off any contracts for new estate regeneration schemes during the consultation. No contracts for new estate regeneration schemes have been signed since the consultation on ballots opened.”
A spokesperson added that the data published by Berry “shows the total number of schemes that have had funding agreed in the entire time since Sadiq became Mayor” and insisted that the “overwhelming majority of decisions” were agreed by June last year, while the more recent contracts related to schemes which had already been allocated funding.
The spokesperson added: “The Mayor published the first-ever City Hall guide to estate regeneration in London and is consulting Londoners on mandatory ballots of residents for schemes where demolition is planned because he wants local people to be at the heart of any decisions from the outset.”