Publication from Siân Berry: Response to Mayor's plans for resident ballots before regeneration
The Mayor has responded positively to an overwhelming desire for estate residents to be given a binding ballot on any demolition plans for their homes as part of regeneration.
In September 2016 I wrote to the Deputy Mayor proposing a set of principles for estate regeneration that should be included in his new guidance. These were:
- No residents excluded from involvement in making plans for the area
- Full transparency for information on the current state of estates and the basis for new plans
- Early and wide engagement with residents, when the goals of the regeneration are still open to change
- Expert support for residents to develop their own plans for their areas
- A meaningful final say and real decision-making power over the final options, ideally with a ballot for all residents
The Mayor’s draft Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration, published in December 2016, was very disappointing. I described it as: “almost useless as a resource for residents who want to hold their councils and landlords to account, take part in developing and putting forward positive new ideas to improve their areas or have a meaningful say in whether their homes are demolished.”
The consultation on the draft ended in March 2017, and 95 per cent of respondents – including me – asked for ballots for residents, even though this was not one of the proposals and was not asked about in any of the consultation questions.
The final draft of the Mayor’s Good Practice Guide was published in February 2018.4 This is much improved on the original draft and includes a new funding condition requiring a positive result in a ballot of residents on estates in order to qualify for the Mayor’s affordable housing grants.
This will go some way to meet the Mayor’s manifesto commitment to: “Require that estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation.”
However, ballots should also be part of planning policy. They should be held in all cases of estate demolition in order to ensure resident engagement is done properly, and to inform planning decisions by the Mayor and other authorities. The results of a ballot – supporting or opposing a proposal – should be given very significant weight in these decisions.
The Mayor is now consulting on the technical requirements for ballots, and this document is my draft response to the questions in the consultation document here: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/consultation-on-a-new-fund...
The consultation is open until 5pm on Tuesday 3 April 2018. You can respond by email at: [email protected]. My draft responses to the Mayor’s questions are below.