‘We are living the worst lives possible’ say Lambeth residents caught in council’s Estate Regeneration Programme

Lambeth Residents claim that the council’s Estate Regeneration Programme has left them in limbo as they continue to live in properties that are falling apart around them.

Frustrations were expressed during a joint Stand Up to Lambeth and Hurst & Meath Residents’ Association meeting last month, including concerns about possible tenancy agreement changes.

Figures from Lambeth Council.

Central Hill Estate resident Nicola Curtis received a demolition notice in March 2017. She said: “What can we do? We’re just literally stuck in limbo living the worst lives possible.

“Lambeth Council still say they are planning to demolish Central Hill Estate but they won’t give us a date so we’re just in limbo until they figure out what they are going to do with us.”

She added: “Residents are leaving not because they want to but because they have to, because the estate is literally falling down around our earholes.

“I have to leave because my house is falling down, I can’t use my sitting room anymore because the sitting room ceiling is collapsing, and I’ve had to get a solicitor now to take Lambeth Council to court over disrepair.

“We never wanted the regeneration plans, the estate is a nice estate and has been completely run down by Lambeth Council so they can get a demolition notice on it.”

Conservative Clapham Common councillor Tim Briggs and Vauxhall Lib Dem activist Sarah Lewis were on the panel, but Labour councillor Ian Henderson could not attend the non-partisan residents’ meeting, which occurs every six months.

The Homes for Lambeth (HfL) group of companies is wholly owned by Lambeth Council and is managing the regeneration programme, including building private homes for sale to subside social housing and stated phase one planning is due to take place on Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens estates.

Lambeth Council aims to build 1,000 new homes at ‘council-level rent’ but admitted council tax and rents will be higher on these new homes.

Any rent increase will be phased over five years and residents can claim housing benefit if eligible.

Architects 4 Social Housing submitted alternative plans for Central Hill which avoided demolition while providing new homes, but Lambeth Council stated they were not financially feasible.

Andrew Plant, 54, who has lived on Cressingham Gardens since 1996 said: “Rents will be based on the council-level rent for new-builds, not on the rent that people were paying for their old homes. Housing costs to residents are increased through district heating systems.”

Residents believe that moving people out of estates destroys community cohesion.

Mr Plant said: “My wife died in 2016, my community actually kept me alive for about six months, just people coming around talking to me and finding out how I was, just being neighbourly.”

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “We do not have enough council homes, and many of the homes we have are in a poor state of repair. Many tenants on our estates are living in dilapidated conditions that the council can’t afford to refurbish.

“We’re not prepared to leave people living in sub-standard properties but funding for refurbishment or additional borrowing powers are not available due to decisions made by the government on Decent Homes funding and Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps.

“In addition, funding for new council homes has been substantially reduced by the government.

“So we face a choice: of doing nothing for these estates; or rebuilding them to provide the more and better homes our community needs.”

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