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Council to develop 'progressive alternative' to existing regeneration plan

Alton Estate, Roehampton. Picture: LDR Sian Bayley


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Plans to tear down blocks on a huge estate for only 48 new council homes will be scrapped in a huge U-turn now set for final approval. Wandsworth Council is set to draw up fresh ideas for the Alton Estate regeneration after the new Labour administration hit out at the old proposals.

The council’s housing committee voted in favour of scrapping the masterplan for the estate regeneration on Thursday (29 September), with the move set for final approval at an executive meeting on October 10. This means the immediate threat of blocks being bulldozed on the estate has been removed but nothing has been ruled out.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan approved the old plans in January to demolish 288 homes on the estate for 1,108 new homes, including 261 affordable homes and new community facilities. Following separate planning applications, 10 homes have been built at McKinney House and 14 are being built at Fontley Way.

But at Thursday’s meeting, Labour councillor Aydin Dikerdem said the project’s 15-year timeframe and cost to build 48 new homes offered at social rent is a “real estate venture rather than something that is about investing in the estate”. He said the council will draw up fresh plans for a “progressive alternative”.

He said, “The key message that we want to make is that this isn’t about pulling investment away from the estate, it’s just about shaping what that investment looks like. We are committed to investing in the Alton Estate – that is a categorical, it’s something that we agree on.”

Labour councillor Matthew Tiller, who lives on the estate, said the old plans would have benefitted rich new residents while “barely making a dent in the council house waiting list”. He said existing homes on the estate had been neglected while residents have waited for more than a decade for regeneration.

But Conservative councillor Kim Caddy said the old administration worked hard on the scheme and that the flats weren’t fit-for-purpose. She said: “We‘d got to such a fantastic point where we were ready to go with it and ready to deliver the promises that we’d made to those Roehampton residents. It’s not just about incremental additional social housing it’s also about replacing the social housing that currently exists there.”

Conservative councillor Daniel Ghossain added: “Many residents’ very real hopes for a better home and a better life were invested in these plans and now those hopes, those dreams, have been kicked into the long grass.”

But Councillor Dikerdem said there was a lot of disagreement across the estate about the old masterplan and that money wasn’t being taken away from the regeneration. He said: “We are just going to come up with a progressive alternative that speaks to the needs of the existing residents, that isn’t about building 800 private units on a site that at the moment is desperately in need of the absolute basics.”

The committee voted in favour of a series of major housing policies at the meeting, including creating 1,000 new council homes, bringing back lifetime tenancies, licensing landlords and buying back more council homes.

Charlotte Lilywhite - Local Democracy Reporter

September 30, 2022

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