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Statement: Overview and Scrutiny Committee decision on Cressingham Gardens

Lambeth Council will press ahead with proposals to redevelop the Cressingham Gardens estate, providing at least 464 new homes, after senior councillors rejected a call for the decision to be reconsidered.

Lambeth’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night [Tuesday, 11 August] decided that the Council’s Cabinet should not be asked to review its decision to opt for the redevelopment of the estate. However, Committee members made a number of recommendations for the Cabinet to consider – including comments on the “Test of Opinion” carried out among residents, and the financial analysis of the regeneration scheme.

Members of the Cabinet last month approved a report – “Investing in better neighbourhoods and building the homes we need to house the people of Lambeth” – proposing the replacement all the 306 homes, many of which are in a poor state of repair. The redevelopment will provide a minimum of 464 new homes – a net gain of 158 extra homes. The scheme, part of the Council’s estate regeneration programme, will contribute towards the commitment to build 1,000 extra homes at council rent levels.

The decision to authorise the Cressingham Gardens scheme was challenged by Green councillor Scott Ainslie, who questioned the validity of the test of residents’ opinion of the options available and the Council’s financial assessment of the options, and said the decision should be “reviewed on Historical/Heritage grounds”. In his official request for the decision to be “called in” by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Ainslie said:  “I believe the information in the report is inaccurate which therefore brings into question the validity of the cabinet’s decision.”

After a meeting in the Town Hall last night, the committee decided the decision should stand. Members raised a number of questions, including about the methodology used to carry out the test of opinion, and suggested that the financial analysis of the rebuilding project should be more transparent. Their comments will now go to Cabinet for consideration.

Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I am pleased that the decision to go ahead with the rebuilding of Cressingham Gardens has been endorsed, and am grateful for the committee’s further recommendations.

“We face a major housing crisis in Lambeth, but in Cressingham Gardens we have the opportunity to build a new, modern estate – for existing residents and for people who at the moment do not have a secure home by increasing the number of homes for council rent for local families. I hope we can now get on with this vital project.”

ENDS

An FAQ on the proposed redevelopment of Cressingham Gardens is available at: http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/housing/regeneration/cressingham-gardens-redevelopment-guide

The cost estimate for bringing the Cressingham Gardens estate up to the Lambeth Housing Standard is £9.4m. The original 2012 Lambeth Housing Standard business plan included a provision of £3.4m for these works.

This cost would need to be met from within the Housing Revenue Account as there is currently no provision for this level of costs within the Council’s LHS programme. Putting this in context, the average Lambeth Housing Standard cost for the estate of more than £30k per unit at Cressingham Gardens compare to a borough average range of £11.5k to £19.9k. In broad terms this equates to between 100 and 200 properties.

Cressingham Gardens tenants will have the right to a new home, at council rents, for their lifetime; resident homeowners will have the ability to buy a new home, or to take up a shared equity or shared ownership option if that better suits their finances.

Council Tenants

  • Council tenants on Cressingham Gardens who have to move because of a decision to demolish and rebuild part of the estate they live on will be offered a new lifetime home on the estate at Council rent levels
  • Residents choosing to move elsewhere will be given Band A priority to bid for an alternative property
  • If the Council pursues building new homes through a Special Purpose Vehicle these homes will be rented at Council rent levels, from the Council’s housing register but with a lifetime assured tenancy, rather than a secure tenancy, and so would not have a statutory Right to Buy.

Homeowners (both Freeholders and Leaseholders)

  • Resident homeowners wishing to sell their property would be offered market value plus 10% plus reasonable disturbance costs
  • Non-resident homeowners would be offered market value + 7.5%
  • Resident homeowners wishing to stay on the estate would be offered a swap to a retained property on the estate subject to availability and their ability to port their mortgage.
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