The results of the first residents’ ballot in Lewisham have been agreed by Mayor and Cabinet.   

Lewisham Council is proposing to knock down 87 homes and 15 businesses around Achilles Street in New Cross to build 450 new homes and “up to 150 new council homes”.   

The proposals were backed by 73 per cent of eligible residents, 92 per cent of whom voted.    

Of the 81 eligible people who voted – social tenants and leaseholders – 59 voted yes and 22 voted no.   

The ballot follows a ruling by the Mayor of London in 2018 which means the demolition of social housing cannot go ahead without the backing of residents.    

Cabinet members at the meeting on Wednesday (January 15) praised the ballot’s high turnout, “overwhelming support” and “fantastic” engagement from residents, as well as highlighting the need for homes in the area.  

But a group of campaigners in the area, branded a “small noisy opposition” by a councillor at the meeting, say the vote was “unfair” because the only people who were eligible to vote were residents named on the council tenancy or lease.  

See more: Achilles Street Campaigners say ‘yes’ vote to demolish homes ‘undemocratic’  

Residents not named on the council tenancy or lease, private tenants (unless they were on the council waiting list for over a year), and all of the businesses were denied a vote.  

Responding to the ballot’s approval on Wednesday, Jacquie Utley, from the Achilles Stop and Listen Campaign and who has lived on the estate for nearly 30 years, said they were “disappointed but not surprised”.  

“We’ve repeatedly pointed out how unfair and one-sided the process was for the community.   

“Only 88 of the hundreds of people that live and work in the area were eligible to vote.    

“The council spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on winning this ballot and not a penny on alternative plans that don’t include the demolition of people’s home and businesses.    

“We’ve put a complaint in to the GLA on several points key points.   

“One of the points was why the housing charity Shelter was misquoted in the ‘Landlord Offer’ document as saying it defined London Affordable Rent as social rent.   

“Since this came to light, Shelter has asked the council to stop quoting them. The reality is that there will be no new housing for social rent in the development.   

“The largest percentage of homes will be private,” she said. 

 A council spokesperson said: “The reason the council proposed the regeneration of the Achilles Street estate was to build additional council homes, and the overwhelming support of residents on the estate demonstrates that the majority of them support this aim.” 

Mayor and cabinet also approved a residents’ charter for estate regeneration, which includes ten key principles.   

The first is that a residents’ ballot will be held before any estate regeneration takes place in the future.   

The council will also “guarantee to build an increased number of homes for social rent”, as well as communicating regularly with residents.   

“Throughout the design, planning and construction processes, we will be transparent and ensure that information is accessible to everyone.   

“You will be able to shape the proposals and we will encourage all estate residents to take part in the design process and work with us to establish a steering group,” according to the charter.   

Council tenants who wish to stay on the estate will be guaranteed an offer of a new home “at a social rent level on the rebuilt estate” with the same tenancy conditions they have today.  

Existing leaseholders or freeholders will also be offered a new home on the rebuilt estate.   

“We want to establish and strengthen thriving communities that are inclusive and sustainable for existing and new residents.   

“As part of this approach, we will aim to create new jobs and opportunities, local amenities, and high-quality open and green spaces,” according to the charter.   

Private tenants whose homes are affected by the regeneration will be helped on a one-to-one basis to help secure an alternative home”.  

The council has promised to work with contractors to “minimise the pollution and disruption caused by demolition and construction works”, while ensuring that all homes are “energy efficient and as environmentally sustainable as possible”.