Members of the Greater London Assembly have voted UNANIMOUSLY to ensure ballots are made of all residents whose homes are affected by proposed demolition.
That would mean people living on the Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace and five other estates across Lambeth – which the Labour-dominated borough council want to demolish despite huge protests – getting the chance to have their voices actually heard. And their homes saved.
Part of the motion which was passed “notes the Mayor’s manifesto commitment that estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation.”
Ballots should also extend to private renters from non-resident leaseholders and freeholders on estates, says the motion – a move which is bound to infuriate Lambeth council’s political rulers.*
The motion, agreed on December 21st, calls on the Mayor to include the commitment in his final Good Practice Guide, urging him to make London a place where neighbourhoods are designed to answer communities’ needs.
Sian Berry (Green), who proposed the motion, said: “The Assembly has today called for something all estate residents should have: a final say on what will happen to their homes and communities.
“Full consultation is vital and a ballot over any major plan to remodel their estates is the only way to make sure councils and housing associations don’t fudge these processes.
“The Mayor’s commitment that ‘estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation’ was clear and we are calling now for him to keep his promise to Londoners.”
Tom Copley (Lab), who seconded the motion, said: “I’m pleased that the Mayor is insisting that there must be no net loss of social housing on estate regeneration schemes in his draft Good Practice Guide.
“But I want him to go further by including ballots of residents whose homes face demolition.
“Balloting is a vital way of ensuring residents have a meaningful say over future plans for their homes and is the best way to ensure a regeneration scheme has legitimacy.
“Wherever demolition is an option, there must be a commitment to balloting residents, particularly where a sizeable number of residents have made a request for a ballot.
“Through his Good Practice Guide, we now want to see the Mayor working with community groups to develop detailed guidance about a host of issues, such as when ballots take place, who participates and how differences in opinions between residents may be resolved.”
Sian Berry Tweeted: Today we voted unanimously that the Mayor should give estate residents a ballot in his final guidance. All residents should have a ballot before major changes to their estates. A good way to end the year!
*In October Upper Norwood Green party campaigners put out a newsletter on Central Hill estate which read:
“Many residents will be surprised to learn there was a meeting early in October which decided how to engage local people over the council’s plans to demolish Central Hill.
“While the council claim to have written a letter to every resident many people (including us) didn’t receive one. “As a result only 10 people were at the meeting.
“The meeting was to discuss the new structures for the demolition and rebuild of Central Hill. “Both Becki Newell (fellow Green campaigner)and I were at the meeting and were disallowed from being part of the new project group on the Central Hill estate because we are private tenants. ”
Pete Elliott told News From Crystal Palace: “This means that private tenants, absent landlords, those moved onto the estate on temporary contracts (there are quite a few now) and people who live in the vicinity of the estate will not have a meaningful voice on the council appointed panels.”
The five other estates are Creessingham Gardens, Fenwick, Knights Walk, South Lambeth and Westbury.
The full text of the GLA motion reads:
This Assembly notes that the Mayor’s Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration is due to be published soon which will set out key principles to be followed in estate regeneration projects. 
This Assembly also notes the Mayor’s manifesto commitment that estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation. 
This Assembly believes that a final say for residents is an important way to ensure that resident involvement in plans for their homes is done in a meaningful way throughout the process.
This Assembly therefore urges the Mayor to recommend in his final Good Practice Guide that ballots are used on all schemes where demolition is an option or to include clear guidance that ballots will be guaranteed where a proportion of residents ask for it. Ballots should extend to private renters from non-resident leaseholders and freeholders on estates. (Source GLA media centre – assembly press releases.)
1. Homes for Londoners – Draft Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration. Mayor of London, Dec 2016
2. A Manifesto for All Londoners. Sadiq Khan for London