Aylesbury Tenants and Leaseholders First
We are a group of residents on the Aylesbury – both tenants and leaseholders – fighting to defend our homes.
We call ourselves “Aylesbury Tenants and Leaseholders First” Why ? – because any regeneration plan must prioritise, defend and improve the quality of life of existing residents.
And this is the place to join our campaign to do just that. Future pie-in-the-sky must not be used as an excuse to neglect existing needs, with Aylesbury rental income funding improvements in other parts of the borough, whilst the AAAP is used to tick a box to show that “something is being done for the Aylesbury”.
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.
The Aylesbury Area Action (Demolition) Plan (known forthwith as the AAAP) has cost millions to develop, BUT it is not plan that benefits the existing residents, nor the project of providing genuinely affordable housing for those most in need.
The issue of affordabiity is absolutely key.
AAAP = The opportunity to for developers to charge rents too high for the average Council tenant, pricing ALL of us off the new ‘gentrified’ Estate. (see our ‘Jargon busting’ page about plans afoot to change the meaning of ‘social rented’ to 80% of market rents).
But, lets for a moment take percentages in the AAAP of ‘social rented’ at face value,
this AAAP = 250 fewer family homes to rent.
Although there will be 1450 more homes on the Aylesbury, there will be 680 fewer homes in total on this Estate for ‘social renting’, and about 250 fewer family homes to rent. This net loss of social housing throughout the borough is masked by the use of the phrase ‘affordable’ to incorporate units that are for part-rent/part-buy – a mad misuse of language. And there is also now a whole new category of homes to rent –intermediate – for which tenants qualify by meeting a threshold of a specified minimum income.
Also, now that there are many fewer “secure” tenants on the Aylesbury, the Council is not obliged to provide so much replacement accomodation. New tenants moving in have the status of “temporary tenants” so when it is time for these people to be rehoused, that is not the Council’s responsibility.
The best, most practical, environmentally friendly, cost-effective, community empowering and health-giving solution to the problems of the Aylesbury never was whole-scale demolition. (But, unbelieveably, this is what is happening?!?!)
We believe that the reasons for wanting total demolition of the Aylesbury were political, not structural. We question the wisdom of any Council selling off its property assets – rather they should be enhancing them with investment and the best estate management. There should have been, and never was, a whole-scale block-by-block re-evaluation of structural soundness and financial viability of refurbishment. New lifts and entry phones are a lot cheaper than ‘new build’.
We are mindful of what happened on the Heygate. All kinds of promises were made to residents. When Lend Lease build the new housing there, only 79 flats (0ut of a previous 1,200) will be nominally for ‘social renting’. That ‘social rent’, however, is unlikely to be genuinely affordable. Let at the new ‘affordable rent’ tenure, rents can be set at up to 80% of market rent. That means rents of up to £220 per week for a 1-bed flat and £439 per week for a 4-bed flat:
Democracy and CONsultation
Southwark’s press office, and their consultation literature and exhibitions have been giving out misleading information, and the dis-information continues.
How is it that the Council have been able to ignore the 2001 ballot against demolition?
No ‘consultation exercise’ since has been able to rival this ballot for outreach. 76% of tenants responded, and the vote was 73% against demolition and to remain as Council Tenants
(read more here – a formal analysis presented to the Government Inspector in 2009 on the systematic failings of the AAAP CONsultation process, and on the failings of the T&RAs and the NDC to genuinely engage with residents)
Developers were to be enticed onto the Aylesbury by a ‘PFI,’
the New Labour styled ‘Private Finance Initiative’,
what would have been £18million of public money to kick- starting demolition and new build on the Taplow and Wolverton sites, and the multi-billion development.
PFIs have been highly problematic in the Health Service, and the Con-Dems blocked the Aylebury PFI. So the ‘Regeneration’ stalled. The previous time-line was abandoned.
(House prices fall for 15th month in a row The Guardian – 3.10.2011.)
Then the London Property market bounced back, and remains (Spring 2015), for now, incredibly bouyant. So the Council were able to appoint a new developer (see ‘Latest News’).
And embarked on another round of consultations to decide the detail of the plans this summer. A time to remind the Council, and the Government, that residents didn’t want this demolition anyway.
And that we are very, very, very, very concerned about affordability.
And viability. It was viability assessments that did for the promises made to residents on the Heygate.
The viability of this scheme and NHHT ability to deliver a good proportion of ‘affordable’ homes is based on a gamble about the continuing “buoyancy” of the housing market. BUT! ‘buoyant’ house prices and market rents price most tenants and leaseholders out of the area!
At the May 2014 consultation the NHHT representatives were unable to comment on what rents and service charges might be like in the ‘social rented homes’ on the estate. The issue of affordability, genuine guaranteed affordability, is absolutely key to whether or not this development is in any shape or form justifiable.
Watch this space.