Alton Estate Regeneration"should be a better deal for local people"
Putney MP Fleur Anderson, London Assembly Member Leonie Cooper, Roehampton Councillors Claire Gilbert and Jeremy Ambache, and Wandsworth Opposition Spokesperson on Housing Cllr Paul White are joining together to press for more council housing in the plans for the Alton Estate Regeneration.
Wandsworth Council are planning a large regeneration of the Alton East estate, but many local people have told their MP that they are not happy with the plans and want a better deal. The London Mayor has responded to the local campaign and asked for the council to improve both their plans and consultation.
Wandsworth Borough Council has responded to comments on the June 2019 proposals by addressing just two of the numerous concerns raised: that is (i) the previously offered number of affordable homes, and (ii) the previous level of segregation between Council and private homes.
The revised plans outlined in January 2020 set out that there would be:
- A reduction in the amount of (non-Council rent) affordable homes by 8 units, contrary to promises to deliver 68 leaseholder re-provisions in the regeneration;
- An increase in the number of Council rent homes by only 13, at the expense of the aforementioned 8 affordable homes, without increasing the amount of affordable homes floorspace;
- A desultory increase of affordable homes by 5 units, achieved by sacrificing some larger homes for a few smaller ones;
- A continued imbalance in the central area, where only 14% of homes will be affordable homes, therefore maintaining the segregation between private and affordable homes, albeit seeing an increase of 35 council homes there , trading places with (Non-council rent) affordable homes and earlier delivery of those 35;
- A continued segregation in the “Q” blocks, of council and (non-council rent) affordable homes - at least ½ mile away from the main intervention area where all the private homes, shops and services will be sited;
- A missed opportunity to part-fund this regeneration through GLA grant, potentially missing out on at least £13m additional funding - and a refusal to consult the residents through a ballot;
- A failure to recognise the fact that this regeneration is on public (Council-owned) land, and should therefore be working towards a figure of 50% of all homes being “affordable” (subject to viability);
- An undermining of the confidence of residents in the regeneration, who want to move to new homes in a community which is not overwhelmingly made up of private homes, drastically changing the social balance in the centre of the Estate.
The Alton Estate is an historic and ambitious social housing project which reached its 70th year last year. Currently, 30% of the Alton Estate suffers from over-crowding and there are very many families living in temporary accommodation. The plans will mean 847 new houses to be privately sold, but only an additional 43 council rented homes and 8 other affordable homes.
Fleur Anderson MP said: "This may lead to delays in the plans as failure to comply with the London Plan and GLA requirements means that Wandsworth Council may need to go back to the drawing board. They could avoid this if they just increased the number of council homes and affordable homes now."
Leonie Cooper, Assembly Member for Wandsworth and Merton said: "The GLA’s letters of August 2019 clearly stated that the plans submitted in June 2019 “fell far short” of the GLA’s expectations and did not comply with the London Plan or the draft London Plan. While these plans have now been revised, they still fall short of the expectation of the GLA and Mayor, which is really disappointing."
Cllr Claire Gilbert said: "‘We welcome the investment in Roehampton and want the regeneration to succeed, but there will be at least ten years of building work and a major transformation of the area, so we want to see new plans that really work for local people."
The Council has defended the proposals telling this website that the scheme will deliver 280 new and replacement council homes to add to the more than 3,300 that already exist on the estate, leading to a net increase of more than 830 homes.
Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “This hugely ambitious regeneration scheme will deliver more than just new homes. It will re-energise Roehampton and provide state-of-the-art community facilities that will benefit everyone who lives in this part of the borough."
A Council spokesman stated that the planned commercial and community floorspace is expected to generate between 243 and 296 full time jobs, while the construction phases of the development are expected to generate at least an additional 242 jobs ranging from ground workers to construction management between the years 2020 and 2030.
The overall positive impact to local employment levels is likely to be boosted further with greater numbers of jobs generated for the demolition phase and also for the provision of the open space and other landscaped areas that form an integral part of the estate’s regeneration.
And to make sure it’s local people who benefit most from the new jobs, training and apprenticeship opportunities that the regeneration will deliver, the council will be setting up a Work Match scheme on the estate, similar to ones already established in Nine Elms, Wandsworth Town and on Battersea’s Winstanley estate that have successfully ‘matched’ hundreds of people with employment opportunities.
Cllr Govindia continued:
“It will offer our residents vastly improved living conditions while the overall scheme demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that family housing is closely aligned with play space and other really important neighbourhood amenities.
“These plans have been developed over six years with extensive consultation with the local community. People living in the area have played a central role in helping to draw up the proposals and this has helped ensure the regeneration meets their day-to-day needs. It is the council’s core guarantee that all residents living in the regeneration area will be able to remain part of their community. All secure council tenants are being offered a new secure tenancy and a bright, modern new home on the estate, as are all existing resident leaseholders and freeholders. This promise is vastly different and more generous than that given to residents in other regeneration schemes in London.
“Our priority above everything else is to provide sustainable, decent, high-quality homes for our residents, which is why we are committed to delivering this project and contributing over £100 million from council budgets to create this vibrant new neighbourhood.
“Wandsworth Council not only recognises the need for more housing, but among the capital’s town halls, we are almost alone in actually doing something about it – and investing our own funds to deliver these new homes. The council remains even more ambitious for the future of everyone who lives in Roehampton. The estate’s regeneration will offer new and better opportunities for people to train, learn new skills and pursue new careers. We want to ensure that people of all backgrounds can fulfil their ambitions and this regeneration programme will help to achieve that goal."
February 27, 2020