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How do you lose 600 homes?

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How do you lose 600 homes?

To lose one home is bad. To lose 600 is just unbelievable.

Yesterday, we visited the Aylesbury Estate, to see the Notting Hill Housing Trust's (NHHT) exhibition of their redevelopment plans.

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The first thing that struck us was the stark emptiness of the space - there were plenty of panels there alright, and plenty of NHHT staff but no local residents at all. Indeed, we counted only three other visitors while we were there. Maybe that was only to be expected when you 'consult' during a weekday. Maybe that's only to be expected after years of Aylesbury residents' concerns being stifled by a 'community interest' company chaired by the local councillor in charge of the regeneration (the same company which, as the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) leaflet tells us, works 'with local community to raise participation and engagement'). Whatever the reason, this 'consultation' is yet another shameful example of how little we who live in Southwark matter.

The panels were aplenty, from timeline for the redevelopment, to 'funky' comments board, to maps of redeveloped estate with all the new 'pocket parks', neighbourhoods, green links, nauseating cliches about 'local benefits', 'jobs' and the like, bland, identikit images of corners of Anywhereville, etc. There was also an opportunity to get distracted by detail, by pondering about the colour of the bricks which would be used or by looking at the floor plans.

NHHT, and we quote, 'creates inclusive neighbourhoods which complement and positively enhance the surrounding areas so that they become places where residents want to live by choice.' It may come as a relief to some that they would not negatively enhance Aylesbury but surely there has got to be a limit to nonsense-speak?

'Lessons have been learned from the Heygate,' one of the NHHT staff told us. 'We certainly do not want another Heygate here.'

According to the council's adopted Area Action Plan for the Aylesbury, there are now 2,700 homes on the site. The NHHT redevelopment will provide 4,200. 50% of these new homes (2,100) will be 'affordable'. 75% of the 2,100 (1,575) will be social rented (at 'target rents' for 250 years, according to the FAQ leaflet). 25% of the 2,100 will be shared ownership.

2,100 is 600 homes less than what's there now. One of the NHHT team confirmed that the council was 'managing the rehousing' which would send shivers down anyone's spine. Especially as the FAQ expands to say, 'The proposals also include providing additional local homes on nearby Notting Hill Housing Trust developments to help tenants and leaseholders in the early phases to find a new affordable home.' A week or so ago, NHHT organised an outing for Aylesbury tenants and took them up to Brent (not 'nearby' by any means) to show them some NHHT homes. This, NHHT team alleged on Friday, was to show what the new Aylesbury homes would look like and not potential homes where the Aylesbury residents would be rehoused to. Are there spare 600 council or NHHT homes nearby? We very much doubt it. Incidentally, the new NHHT development, arguably close to the Aylesbury (Manor Place, Walworth), is proposing a mix of 'affordable' and private homes which isn't going to do the job either.

What is to happen to the 600 families? Will they, like the Heygate residents, be offered peanuts for compensation then forcibly evicted? Will the council, yet again, get away with this?

Updated 18th May 2014:

We have retyped and uploaded the FAQ information which you can download below. You can have a look at the Notting Hill Housing Trust's proposals for the Aylesbury on their website here.

 

 

 

 

 

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