Social scandal - Fears expensive homes will be prioritised during estates redevelopment (From This Is Local London)
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Social scandal - Fears expensive homes will be prioritised during estates redevelopment
Redevelopment of three housing estates including the demolition of more than 1,000 homes could see the creation of a further 950 households, raising fears social housing will be marginalised to promote high end accommodation.
Circle Housing Merton Priory (CHMP) took control of Merton Council’s housing stock in 2010 and announced plans to completely redevelop High Path, Eastfields, and Ravensbury estates last November, following a summer consultation process with residents.
Residents were given a questionnaire in the summer with general questions about who they are and what they would like to see on their estate.
Further consultation included informal exhibitions and workshops, though residents have complained these were often held during working hours.
In November residents received notice their homes could be knocked down and rebuilt, leaving owners the option of shared ownership or being bought out by CHMP, while social tenants will have to be rehoused during the process.
The Guardian has learned, from information in a job advert for an independent residents advisor to be appointed by CHMP in May with an annual salary of up to £100,000, the company could increase the number of homes from 1,300 to 2,250 across the estates.
This figure has never been mentioned to residents of the three estates.
A spokesman for CHMP said: “The total number of new homes will in part be determined by the design stage work so no figures have been fixed.
"We arrived at this 2,250 figure based on existing planning policy for the areas which anticipates future growth.”
In the job description CHMP said the new homes will include properties for open market sale, market rent, affordable renting, shared ownership and shared equity.
There is no guarantee the total number of homes for social renting will excede current levels.
The news comes after Eastfield Residents Assocaition (ERA) complained the summer consultation was misleading and did not properly address the future of their estate.
Sally Pannifex, chairwoman of ERA said: “It certainly did not attempt to convey the gravity of regeneration or ask residents if they were happy to have their homes demolished and to endure a decade of disruption and uncertainty waiting to be decanted into a ‘better’ home.”
Paul Grant, ERA member who has lived at Eastfields for 12 years, said: “I feel that if there is to be regeneration of our community then it must be planned by our community for the benefit of our community and that absolutely no-one should profit at our expense.”
Paul Quinn, director of regeneration at CHMP, said: “We would like to reassure residents that our consultation with local people is still ongoing.
"A vital part of this next phase will be to understand residents’ needs and offer choices to those involved.
“Merton Council would also need to approve any plans, so there is a long way to go.”
Architects have already been hired to redesign the three estates in consultation with residents from May to December this year.
CHMP said a residents’ vote on whether the regeneration should go ahead at all would not be appropriate given the “long-term” nature of the regeneration and “diverse needs” of residents.
Merton Council declined to comment.
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