WANTED!! Info on latest situation with the Aylesbury regeneration
We haven’t been writing about the Aylesbury as we don’t know so much about what’s been going on as yet. That’s a shame as the No.1 web search term that brings people to this site is ‘Aylesbury Estate’!! If you want to send us an email with thoughts, comments, news, that would be great!
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JANUARY 2012: CHECK OUT NEW AYLESBURY TENANTS FIRST website!!
There is such a big story to the Aylesbury that encompasses the £57 million Aylesbury New Deal for Communities (ANDC) funding from Tony Blair’s Government in 1998, the No vote against Aylesbury housing stock transfer and now the collapse of the £18 million for the Private Financed Initiative ‘regeneration’.
Not only that but there is within this the inheritance by Creation Trust (Aylesbury community development trust) of what was left of the money given to Aylesbury New Deal for Communities (NDC) that had to be spent by 2010. Some of this money was loaned by the NDC/Creation back to the Council for the Council to buy out Aylesbury leaseholders. This undertaking was subject to a formal contract, whereby the Council repays this ‘loan’ by funding Creation Trust (the ANDC’s successor organisation) on a year by year basis. Some local people (including those involved in Aylesbury Tenant’s First) think that much of the millions spent has been wasted on the Council’s heavy PR campaign to gain resident’s acceptance for the demolition/rebuild scheme as if alternatives had not been put forward (refurbishment, part demolition etc). The familiar ‘Estate From Hell’ has, as ever, been the starting point for this PR campaign to demolish ‘one of Britain’s most notorious housing estates‘.
The first new buildings have arrived though now. There are some new London and Quadrant Housing Association flats going up just behind Camberwell Rd as part of Phase 1A that are part of the regeneration. We notice that this first new block is mainly social rented and intermediate rent. The next block have much more private housing factored in. What’s the real story with PHASE 1A?
Aylesbury Tenant’s First make a good point: ‘The Council have a plan for the Aylesbury - to nearly double the density, financing new build Housing Association properties by the sale of neighbouring private homes. It is a plan, and a gamble, a gamble on the future bouyancy of the housing market. And that plan has now stalled.’ What would the future of the density and mix be if the housing market remains precarious? Would developers insist on less of mix to maintain expected profits? Creation Trust’s September 2011 minutes make the following point following on from the loss of funding: ‘At the time of writing the Aylesbury Action Plan each unit was supported with £125k of funding, this has now been reduced to £25,000 so market forces will have a great impact on what can be delivered’.
DEC 2011: Here are some notes we took from a chat with someone the other day: Southwark Council, realising that the strategy of developing the site bit by bit is untenable, are seeking one big developer to take on ‘regeneration’ of the whole estate (much like LendLease is for The Heygate site). There has been interest in this expressed by two possible big developers. The process of putting in the bid to do this will take another three years.
Meanwhile - there were eight expressions of interest in the Wolverton site, whittled down to four, including the two big developers. They made detailed, researched, conscientious proposals and are engaging in the Council’s, and Creation Trust demands that they ‘think’ about job creation for ‘local’ people.
The Council (and the developers) will be desperate to achieve vacant possession on Wolverton to start building in 2012. The plan will be to replace the existing 59 homes there with 165, including one medium high-rise block. There should be proportionally higher numbers of ‘affordable’ homes in this early stages of the scheme to rehouse existing residents. This is the key issue – the amount of genuinely affordable homes, in amongst the proposed 4500 or so new dwellings in the whole scheme, and on Wolverton is in no way guaranteed, and the Council will not be in a strong position to make demands about this. Remember – in the Council’s own plan The Aylesbury Area Action (Demolition) Plan – ‘the AAAP’ (calculated from their percentages) there would be about 700 fewer homes in total on this Estate for ordinary people to rent than we have now, and about 250 fewer family homes to rent, despite the density nearly doubling.
Here is a great presentation called ‘The urban injustices of New Labour’s ‘new urban renewal’: the case of the Aylesbury Estate in London’ from Loretta Lees, writer on regeneration and gentrification.
‘…from the very first day that the demolition was announced, the social bond was affected, because people knew that ultimately within the next few years, they wouldn’t be seeing each other on a daily basis again. They wouldn’t be part of the same community. I’ve got a friend of mine – Terry – he could only afford to move out of the area with what the council was offering him and ended up moving into a home somewhere just outside Sidcup. Terry’s probably in his late 50s and he lives with his wife. He’s lived here all his life. He’s got people that would see him on a daily basis and his family lives here in the area. He’s now living there isolated just outside Sidcup having broken all of his social ties, he’s now suffering from severe depression…It’s not easy to build new social ties, especially the older you are…I mean the number of people I heard who’ve passed away as a result of having to move… for me, it’s genocide’ (interview, D, 2011).
Remember the famous defeat of the Stock Transfer attempt in 2001. See here! It seems such a resounding 73% vote wishing to remain as council tenants can over the years be ignored as merely historical and the vote being only about a trivial matter such as tenure and tenancy rights. See here how time erases tenants desires:
The Aylesbury Estate: Revised Strategy, Southwark Council, September 2005
Aylesbury Area Plan, Government Inspector’s Report, November 2009
All we would say for now, is we hope that what happened on Heygate won’t happen to anyone who lives on the Aylesbury. Heygate had a poll that voted to remain to remain as council tenants too! Hopefully there will be some local opposition to the steam-rollering through of plans, sell-offs etc that are detrimental to the outcomes local people want – to stay local and for the number of council houses to remain the same or more!! Good luck!