LAMBETH’S DEAFENING SILENCE ON CENTRAL HILL PLANS “Lambeth council intends to bulldoze not only our homes, but our rights, our opinions and our lives….”
ANGRY tenants and leaseholders have slammed Lambeth council for keeping them in the dark over plans to redevelop part – or all – of the estate which stands next to Gipsy Hill police station.
In a series of broadsides on ‘The Save Central Hill community’ site they accuse the ‘co-operative’ council of:
CHOOSING the estate for regeneration because of potential profit from property developers;
FAILING to consult tenants and leaseholders living on the estate and withholding information from them
FAILING to provide residents and leaseholders living on the estate with the full facts;
FAILING to carry out repairs – and allowing the estate to fall into disrepair because years of neglect have caught up with the council.
(In December Lambeth announced they would be – in their own words – ” investing an historic £490 million over five years to bring our housing stock up to the Lambeth Housing Standard.”)
PROPERTY: Campaigners say Central Hill was chosen for regeneration largely because of “interest by external parties due to the location of the site” i.e. the desirability and potential profit available from the land.
“This is perhaps unsurprising given what we have all seen of the increase in property prices in the Crystal Palace area in recent years.”
CONSULTATION: Residents have consistently told Cllr Matthew Bennett – Lambeth’s cabinet member for housing AND a councillor for Gipsy Hill ward in which Central Hill estate stands – that in order to be properly consulted they must be provided with the full facts.
“This is the ‘co-operative council’ after all, and it’s hardly rocket science that transparency would hopefully encourage residents trust.”
FULL FACTS: “The pattern so far in residents’ dealings with Lambeth has been the withholding of information.
“Other estates under forced regeneration have already been shown options and bombarded with information so why the different approach with Central Hill?
“Is it a strategy to keep residents in the dark, to avoid challenge? “Could it be that they are behind on their ‘timeline’? “Or are they simply taking their time to get make sure they can justify their preferred option? “Who knows…?
“At a resident drop in session organised by Lambeth council in March 2015, Cllr Bennett verbally stated that finances would be the main deciding factor in which option would be chosen for the estate.
“It is therefore absolutely vital that residents are also shown this information if Lambeth can ever claim to have provided a proper informed consultation.
“Cllr Bennett also stated that residents would be provided with all the information that he gets, including costing – but this has never been backed up in writing.”
REPAIRS: “Cllr Bennett has continually stated that there is no money for repairs which is why they are looking at rebuilding the estate.
“Despite years spent collecting council taxes and service charges from residents, Lambeth council have failed in their duty as landlord.
“Instead of spending those funds on estate maintenance, as is their obligation and responsibility, they have spent the funds elsewhere and allowed the estate to fall into disrepair.
“Instead of those responsible falling on their swords, they have instead come up with a ploy to:
a) use the neglect to their own advantage
b) present a way of solving the problem of neglect on theestate and at the same time offer a way of generating new funds for the council
“…….It’s called regeneration. And the people paying for it are the current residents on the Central Hill Estate.
“Both tenants and leaseholders will be forced into sacrificing their homes in a plan that has long been in the making’
“The cost of bringing the estate up to Decent Homes standard (aka Lambeth Housing Standard) has been cited again and again in the explanation for why our estate in particular needs ‘redeveloping’.
“Despite the deception by Lambeth council claiming to be involving residents in consultation along the way; they have lied and lied and lied, over what decisions have been made, what information was made available to residents.
“Even now they are claiming that a final decision has not been made – yet contractors have been hired, surveys carried out. more tax-payers money spent.
“Lambeth council intends to bulldoze not only our homes, but our rights, our opinions and our lives.
“We need to stop the regeneration of the Central Hill estate, insist on the right to remain in our homes and insist on the council carrying out long overdue repairs that they have ALREADY BEEN PAID FOR!!!!
“According to Cllr Bennett’s timeline (outlined in a letter he wrote) – the ‘financial analysis of options’ (viability assessment) will be completed in June/July.
“The ‘viability of various options will be done before they are presented’ – so no guarantee there that residents will be shown the facts and figures – probably just the pretty drawings.
“Just to put this in the wider context, there is the response people living in Cressingham Gardens, Brockwell Park got in a Freedom of Information request for openness about the financial models being used to justify demolition of their estate.
“They were advised it would not be released as this could inhibit the officers ‘blue sky thinking’. “This might be funny if it weren’t so depressing…”
NOTE: NEWS FROM CRYSTAL PALACE have asked both Cllr Bennett and Lambeth council for a response to the campaigners comments. None has been forthcoming. This column is open to Cllr Bennett and / or Lambeth council to respond should they wish……
FURTHER READING: ‘The Save Central Hill community site’:
Cllr Bennett and the mystery of the financial models…(posted on 22nd May 2015)
PRP architects – friend or foe? (posted on 22nd May 2015)