Manifesto for the Destruction of Council Estates

The prestigious institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published a policy paper that proposes the wholesale demolition of London’s council estates, in the name of regeneration and to allow for the creation of so-called ‘City Villages’.

The paper is the brainchild of New Labour peer Lord Adonis and includes a chapter by Southwark council leader Peter John.

Adonis was a Greek god who was the epitomy of masculine beauty; our Lord Adonis is a more mundane character, a Blairite zealot who fancies himself as London’s Deputy Mayor. He has gathered together a group of like-minded cronies including London borough council leaders and property developers to pen a policy proposal entitled “City Villages: More homes, better communities”.

The idea is simple: London needs lots of new homes; they could all be built on brownfield sites; council estates are on brownfield sites – so let’s demolish council estates. The land is worth a lot of money, so friendly property developers can be enlisted to help. Demolishing council estates would also get rid of that awful “mono-tenure” housing that breeds crime and anti-social behaviour.

His Lordship draws on various provocative examples to make his case, including the Heygate estate. Southwark council leader Peter John writes a chapter on this great success story, which our readers will know from previous blogs destroyed 1200 council homes, replacing them with 79 social rented units, plus 200 unaffordable ‘affordable’ units, ripping off leaseholders along the way – or, in Councillor John’s words creating “a genuine mix of private owned, private rented, shared ownership and social rented homes for people of all incomes.”

Councillor John further redefines the word success when he praises the Strata Tower’s “distinctive three wind turbines” , turbines which, as we have blogged about, do not turn, do not work and do not generate any electricity – a fitting symbol of the Elephant & Castle regeneration after all.

Lord Adonis laments the fact that only a “tiny fraction” of London’s estates are currently being redeveloped and cites amongst these the massive Earls Court redevelopment, which will require the demolition of the West Ken & Gibbs estate and of course our very own Aylesbury redevelopment

Both his Lordship and Councillor John acknowledge this can all be controversial and “redevelopment of estates is sometimes assumed to mean that existing tenants and residents will be displaced by wealthier incomers” but according to Lord Adonis “this need not, nor should it be the case” since redevelopment should offer ample opportunity for residents to remain in new homes once completed.

We beg to differ; estate regenerations over the past 10 years have provided double the number of homes, but they have also lost us 8,000 social rented units and the lessons that we’ve learned is that anyone who stands in the way of a regeneration – whether council tenant or leaseholder – is going to lose their home to make way for new homes that they are unlikely to be able to afford.

Courtesy of the 35% Campaign – Campaigning for a more affordable and inclusive regeneration.

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