Housing campaigners to answer questions and draw up strategy

Housing campaigners will hold a public meeting to push back against estate redevelopment schemes which they claim are ignoring residents’ concerns.

Activists from Stand Up To Lambeth Council and representatives from the Hurst & Meath Residents Association will provide updates on a range of social housing issues, including the Homes for Lambeth scheme and proposals to rebuild the Cressingham Gardens estate.

The council-owned Homes for Lambeth company won approval earlier this month for its business plan for the coming financial year, in which it plans to build more than 300 new homes “by rebuilding current estates, providing replacement homes for current residents … and subsidising these homes with grants and the proceeds from private sale and market rents.”

Opposition councillors reportedly raised concerns over the market risks to a £22.6m loan from the council outlined in the plan.

Also at issue is whether Lambeth will require resident ballots for schemes where demolition is planned for projects funded by money won before the Mayor of London made them mandatory last summer. A £55m City Hall affordable housing grant was awarded to the council in 2017, leaving it at the council’s discretion to impose ballots.

Campaigners have also sought to block the redevelopment of the Cressingham Gardens estate, which Lambeth council has proposed to increase the affordable housing stock and as an alternative to refurbishments which it claims would not be economically viable.

Laura Swaffield, who is helping organise the meeting as a member of one of the campaign groups that form Stand Up To Lambeth said representatives from the four main political parties and two writers and academics will speak at the meeting, which will also feature political art by Herne Hill artist Andrew Cooper and a screening of Paul Sng’s documentary ‘Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle’.

Cllr Matthew Bennett, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes said: “We have set out how we’ll fight the housing crisis over the next 12 months. Homes for Lambeth (HfL), the 100% council owned and council controlled housing company, will ensure 159 new affordable homes are built or under construction in the next year, with 92% of those homes at council rents. HfL will also seek to secure planning permission for another 150 homes. This is a major intervention in our failing housing market, building the homes for local families that so many desperately need.

“Any development comes with a level of risk, but this innovative method of delivery means that no profit will be paid to external shareholders and decisions will made locally and democratically by Lambeth council. We have also secured one of the largest grants from the Mayor of London to build new homes of any London borough.

“Lambeth Greens have once again opposed the building of these new council and affordable homes, just as they have every time we have brought forward schemes to deliver new homes for local people. It’s shameful that Cllr Bartley calls a £22 million investment in new council rent homes as a ‘loss’. We call it a much needed investment in genuinely affordable homes for local families – and we’re proud that Lambeth council is building the homes that our residents need.”

The free meeting will take place on Sunday March 24 from 3pm upstairs at the Prince Regent pub opposite the entrance to the Brockwell Park Lido.

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