New rules requiring social landlords to ballot tenants and residents before they demolish or redevelop existing estates have now come into effect.
The rules, introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan, apply to all schemes receiving funding from City Hall.
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 formal power to order landholders to gain resident support for redevelopment, he is using City Hall’s status as a major funder to ensure the voices of those most affected by the schemes are heard.
In addition to having to ballot residents before starting work, landlords will have to give back the City Hall funding if they fail to honour their original offers to residents.
A public consultation found 88 per cent of respondents support the rules which also have the backing of London Assembly members.
Mayor Khan said: “When estate regeneration is done well, it can improve the lives of existing residents as well as building more social housing.
“But that has not always been the case. Anyone drawing up plans for estate regeneration must involve local people and must consider what impact their plans will have on people who live there now.
“That is why, from now on, City Hall funding for significant estate regeneration schemes involving any demolition of social homes will, for the first time, only be approved where there has been a positive residents’ ballot.”
Labour’s Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, welcomed today’s announcement, saying: “With estate residents usually the only group of people who face the prospect of having their homes demolished, I am really pleased with the Mayor’s decision to require ballots wherever demolition takes place as a condition of funding for regeneration schemes.
“It is also good to see the strengthening of these requirements with guidance on how funding can be clawed back when a completed project doesn’t honour what was promised by the landlord, and with the stipulation that ballots will be conducted by an independent body.
“We want to see that estate regeneration delivers better quality homes and more affordable housing. But unless it is done with resident support, schemes can face being blighted from the start.
“This is something that both the London Assembly and community groups have been calling for in recent years and I’m pleased that the Mayor has listened.”
However Greens on the London Assembly were more cautious.
While their spokesperson Sian Berry also welcomed the plans, she said: “The Mayor says he is ‘determined to use his funding and planning powers to their fullest extent to protect social housing’ and now he should make ballots a condition, not just for funding, but also for planning permission.
“We also know that the Mayor secretly approved a number of funding schemes just before announcing this policy in February and I want reassurance that this has not happened again. I’ll be asking him to give details of any new deals signed between then and today, when this policy has finally come into force.
“I am very disappointed the Mayor has also not listened to my feedback to extend the right to vote in these ballots to all people who live in threatened estates, including people who rent privately from leaseholders even if they are not on the local housing list.
“The chance of getting accepted for the council list varies hugely across London and this will be unfair on many private renters who already endure virtually no security.”