Construction in the Capital
We recently reported that there is a move to build more affordable housing in London in a bid to ensure that there is enough low cost accommodation to meet the needs of local people in the capital. The initiative is being backed by the new Mayor or London, Sadiq Khan, who has recently set out new planning guidance designed to speed up the building process when it comes to 90,000 low cost homes to be delivered by 2020 – 2021. This is all good news for the construction industry as it will provide work for several years to come.
Sadiq Khan has recently published a draft “good practice guide” for estate regeneration across the UK capital and has publicly pledged to put residents first and to protect social housing in London. He goes on to insist that successful regeneration should include an offer of the right to return to displaced tenants. This means that where the total demolition of an estate is necessary, it should only happen if it does not result in the loss of social housing or where “all other options have been exhausted”. This rule would apply to all projects looking for new funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA). Khan has acknowledged that demolishing and rebuilding estates is expensive, time-consuming and very disruptive and called for alternative methods of regeneration to be considered, such as refurbishment and infill, before demolition takes place.
The good practice guide was developed in collaboration with councils, housing associations and residents’ groups, ensuring that residents are involved in the project at the earliest stages. Furthermore, with Khan’s recent statement that “it is vital that residents know when and how they can be involved in decision-making”, residents’ involvement will continue throughout the scheme.
These guidelines will be out for consultation for a total of three months and all Londoners are being encouraged to have their say before the final guide is published in the spring of 2017. The guidelines will then be included in the conditions to be met when applying for City Hall funding for new estate regeneration projects and will be applied to the planning system where possible.
With many councils nowadays developing good practice in estate regeneration across the capital, the guidelines aim to bring together the approaches that have been successful so far – a way of learning from experience. The new UK government recently pledged an extra £32 million in funding for estate regeneration purposes under a new national strategy.
However, Sadiq Khan and his new good practice guide has come under fire from Sian Berry, London’s Green Party Assembly Member. She dubbed the recommendations as “vague and more or less useless” for residents who want to hold their local authority to account when it comes to estate regeneration. She went on to criticise the Mayor’s draft guide because it asks local authorities not to waste time consulting on non-viable options, saying that the right time to involve the residents is before any options have been developed.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, the document has been praised by some architects for seeking options other than the total demolition and rebuilding of some of London’s housing estates.