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Giving residents their say in estate regeneration

Mairead Carroll, Programme Director, Housing

I have lived in east London for the past 20 years, with the last 10 in Newham. Close to where I live stand three tall towers all nearly empty, all in various stages of disrepair. On a clear day you can watch the pigeons who have made one of the towers their home, fly in and out of a broken window.

Newham has a population of 343,500 and a housing waiting list of 25,729. It is a borough that has seen significant investment, yet still has 29% of children living in poverty. It is a borough that has led the way in tackling rogue landlords and beds in sheds. It is a borough, that in the space of two years, spent over £90 million on temporary accommodation. It is a borough desperately in need of decent, affordable homes.

The estate where these tall towers stand needs action. This probably includes the demolition of at least one tower and in order to do so, money will be required from the GLA. Rokhsana Fiaz, the newly selected Labour Mayoral candidate for Newham, has promised residents a vote on any proposals to regenerate the estate.

The Mayor’s consultation ‘Proposed new funding condition to require resident ballots in estate regeneration’ closed this month and we will get the results after the local elections in May. Having worked for a housing association for 11 years, I know how complex and challenging estate regeneration can be. It is not just about units or numbers, it is about homes and communities. It is about family and support networks. It is about creating places where people can thrive and resident engagement is essential to this. In our report on estate regeneration we showed how positive resident engagement can ensure great places to live.

However, there is a significant number of people who don’t have a voice in London’s housing crisis. The thousands across the capital on housing waiting lists and in need of a decent, affordable home. This is why, in our response to the Mayor’s consultation, we propose that where an estate is being regenerated and additional affordable homes are being built – even if it is just one home – it’s not just existing residents who are consulted. Those on the housing waiting list should be given the chance to have their voices heard as well.

You can see our response here


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