• WILL A NEW ESTATE BE AFFORDABLE RENT OVER SOCIAL RENT
  •  WILL THERE BE A LOSS OF TOTAL NUMBER OF COUNCIL HOMES
  •  CAN THE AREA COPE WITH HIGHER DENSITY POPULATION
  •  HOW MUCH LAND WILL BE PRIVATLEY OWNED

 

These are some of the questions being asked. In previous newsletters we have reported on the councils plan for regeneration starting with our very own Cambridge Estate and while councillors have stated that it is at very early stages we have been looking at other projects that have been happening across the capital and tried to draw on their experiences.

Kevin Davis lead councillor for Kingston has stated that “the key to a successful plan is the input from the residents themselves, going on to say that any new build must be owned by the council to secure the future of housing in Kingston”. He also stated that he doesn’t want the social divides that are currently in areas like Norbiton. Since then Kingston council has started “drop in sessions” as a first step in consultation to answer questions from residents.

However……..

On getting information from different areas it seems this is a commonly used tactic by councils as a way to say they have consulted with residents.

The London Tenants Federation a London wide organisation have been producing information on regeneration vs refurbishment for a number of years helping research with other organisations and scholars to produce booklets to help communities. A booklet called “Staying put” outlines a number of “signs to look out for on an estate” (a few are available on request from the RA).

 

So the signs have definitely started. We are hoping that there is a genuine focus of the council to provide up to date and more homes for working class families but we are worried about the future.

Regeneration projects across London have shown that Gentrification is a reality, for example.

The Heygate Estate

Since the ‘Regeneration” programme announced in 1990s Southwark council stopped all but minimal maintenance (We are fortunate as the better homes programme is currently under way and plans to be for the next couple of years).

In January 2001 the council stopped issuing new secure tenancies and started using short term emergency and non-secure tenancies. (Kingston council are now only issuing temporary tenancies to new residents of the Cambridge Estate).

Initially tenants and leaseholders were promised they would be re-housed in new homes however in 2004 they were told the homes were going to be built on nearby land. By 2007 no homes had been built and tenants were pressured to bid for existing housing.

Council homes offered on the Hey gate estate were limited in number, of lower quality and Tenants with disabilities waited longest because of lack of suitable properties.

 

We do not suggest for one moment that Kingston council will make the same mistakes but we would like them to make written legal promises. Including

  • Tenants and Leaseholders are consulted and asked their opinions and have major input
  • New builds will be rented at ‘social rent’ and not ‘affordable rent’ – Currently Tenants rent their homes at social rent which is around 50% of its market value, if tenancies change to affordable rent the price will increase to 80% of the market value, for example

 

Market value of property is £200 as social rent currently is 50% tenant pays £100

Market value of property is £200 at affordable rent of 80% rent will increase to £160

 

  • No council housing will be reduced (Ferrier estate in Kidbrooke, Greenwich had 1,900 council homes.  Likelihood is that there may have been 25% -30%leasehold – so around 1300 – 1425 social rented homes.   The whole estate is demolished and only 740 new homes will be social rented – so a loss of 560 – 685 social rented homes).
  • All new homes will be same size or bigger than current homes.
  • Tenants will have the right to return once building is complete.
  • Council will meet all costs of moving and pay a disturbance fee

Refurbishment is a possibility. If structure surveys come back that there are not any major problems with the structure of the homes, then a case could be made that instead of total demolition a refurbishment plan can be put in place to make homes more comfortable and dated looking blocks easier on the eye. This would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly to achieve.

With other factors including government plans in the new housing bill, there announced plans to focus on new builds for buy rather than affordable/social rent, the 1% rent decrease and the predicted land price increase in line with the cross rail 2 plans. The worries just keep mounting up.

Alright, so this newsletter contains a lot of gloom and doom, and you have a right to know the worst case scenario, but we can still do things to fight our corner, and get the best possible deal for our residents. Your residents’ association, with the ongoing support of Kingston Federation of Residents, will continue to press the Council for the highest levels of openness, two-way communication and full consultation on all plans that affect  residents, and we will insist that OUR voice is listened to.

However, this is your RA, and we want to hear what actions you think we need to take in the coming weeks and months. We’d particularly like to hear from anyone with planning, legal or council experience, but every single offer of support will be welcomed

Tough times lie ahead for both the Council and us as tenants and leaseholders. That is why it is so important for us to prepare now for the battles that lie ahead.