Tenants group goes up against regeneration in London

London Tenants Federation says draft guidance on estate development in the capital has ‘too many get out clauses’.

Draft guidance for regeneration in London has “too many get out clauses”, a tenants group has claimed.

The London Tenants Federation (LTF) has this week published the first of two information booklets for tenants on dealing with estate regeneration schemes.

Publication is timed to the day consultation on the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan’s Good Practice Guide on Estate Regeneration closed.

The booklet, called ‘Holding on to what we have now and why, highlights that the majority of estate regeneration schemes are actually about demolition, loss of social-rented homes and result in displacement of tenants and leaseholders.

It offers advice to tenants, by tenants, on dealing with the early stages of estate regeneration proposals, on how they might best hold households in social housing communities together and warning that if demolition plans are not seen off in the early stages it will be much harder to do this later on.

The booklet includes nine case studies, many of which give examples of losses of social-rented homes (some considerable) and replacement with homes that people on housing waiting lists would never be able to afford. It also includes four ‘good’ refurbishment examples.

The Federation says it is far from convinced the draft guidance would result in much more than the status quo in terms of estate regeneration, providing too many get-out clauses on the Mayor’s election promise that he would stop the loss of not-for-profit social-rented homes in estate regeneration schemes.

LTF argues landlords fail to acknowledge that demolition and redevelopment is generally more expensive than refurbishment and that demolition and is both socially and environmentally damaging.

They highlight that tenants are often presented with expensive glossy materials promoting demolition and suggesting better homes as a result, while in many cases the reality is replacement of working class social-housing tenants with wealthier communities.

Pat Turnbull, one of the LTF members involved in putting the document together says: “There has been some coverage in the media of the many disastrous London ‘regeneration’ schemes where social-rented homes have been demolished and replaced with luxury homes.

“But we know that many tenants and residents on London’s housing estates still do not know about the threats to their homes, and they are the ones who need to know. Our booklet is for them, and for others who are already facing those threats.

“We gave out a draft of the booklet at a February meeting where we discussed the Mayor’s draft guidance and found it was very well received; many tenants’ groups intend to distribute our booklet to their members and to other tenant representatives they know.”

LTF is an umbrella organisation bringing together mostly borough- and London-wide federations and organisations of tenants of social housing providers, but also London Federation of Housing Co-operatives and the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations.

Increasing numbers of its member organisations involve both council and housing association tenants and a few (a minority) also involve some private tenants.

LTF members engaged in the London Assembly Housing Committee’s investigation into demolition v refurbishment in 2014 – in both the Committee’s panel discussion and through submitting a written response.

LTF members also met with officers involved in drafting the Good Practice Guide and with academics from New South Wales who produced a report for the GLA on this issue.

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