A senior councillor has admitted mistakes were made during the regeneration of Barnet’s estates following claims people in buildings slated for demolition are living in “substandard conditions”.

Cllr Peter Zinkin, who chairs the finance committee and the Conservative group, said the council “did not get it all right” but is “learning from its mistakes” and getting better at large-scale redevelopment projects.

It came as Labour councillors called for more focus on the needs of residents on old estates undergoing redevelopment, including the long-delayed regeneration of the Grahame Park estate in Colindale.

The regeneration of the 1970s estate was originally due to be finished in 2018, but the date has now been pushed back to 2032.

At a meeting of the housing and growth committee on Monday (September 14), Cllr Nagus Narenthira (Labour, Colindale) said residents in older buildings at Grahame Park are still living in “substandard conditions”.

“Colindale councillors found…many locks and security doors were broken. This has led to drug dealing and drug abuse in the blocks, which caused serious health and safety concerns to the residents,” she added.

“Some flats are unliveable, with damp, leaks, rats and mice infestations. The heating system is a disgrace and out of action many times a year and takes many days to fix. Patch-up work has been carried out but does not last long, and this is shameful.”

Cllr Narenthira claimed £33 million allocated by the council for improvements to the estate was not enough to help all the residents.

Cllr Sara Conway (Labour, Burnt Oak) told the meeting: “I’m worried that Barnet’s regeneration plans are forever fixated on shiny new buildings, rather than the people living next to them or moving into them.

“We need the social infrastructure that should go with regeneration. As the building works look like they could be further delayed, we need proper maintenance and attention to the old part of the estate until it is demolished and rebuilt.”

Committee chairman Cllr Richard Cornelius (Conservative, Totteridge), who was council leader from 2011 until 2019, said: “We have learnt from the past, but it is really difficult to get these schemes going.

“We have kept on, and the borough is to be credited with that – that the schemes have been kept moving. We are doing our bit and we are achieving more than any other London borough.”

Cllr Sarah Wardle (Conservative, Edgware) said the council had “learnt a lot” about maintenance issues and pointed out regeneration schemes had brought “significant” inward investment in schools, health services and parks.

“Ultimately, we are working towards an end goal of improving the lives of not only the existing residents of Barnet but (those of) the people who want to come and live in this borough,” she added.

Cllr Zinkin (Conservative, Childs Hill) told the committee: “It is the case that we have estates that have real difficulties, and those are issues with which we have to deal.

“It is also true that regeneration in the borough has been a journey. We didn’t get it all right, and hopefully we are learning from our mistakes and getting better at what we are doing.”

But Cllr Zinkin added Barnet had achieved “more than any other borough in London”, winning Government funding for “amazing pieces of transformation”.

At the end of the debate, councillors unanimously approved most of a series of amendments put forward by Cllr Conway, meaning the council will prioritise fixing a range of problems affecting the Grahame Park estate.