Sian Berry meeting residents on the Silchester Estate

News from Siân Berry: Make resident ballots compulsory for planning decisions too

18 July 2018

People on estates will finally have the power to stop the demolition of their homes against their will, in a major victory for grassroots campaigns in London. [1]

The Mayor today announced the introduction of compulsory ballots, after draft proposals were published in February. His change in policy after previously opposing ballots came after a long campaign supported by Sian Berry AM. A motion she proposed on giving residents ballots was passed unanimously by the London Assembly in December 2017. [2]

Sian Berry today welcomed new details of how ballots will work, including that all eligible residents aged over 16 will get their say, and that all ballots must be conducted by an independent body not the landlord.

However, the Mayor’s announcement today only covers future City Hall funding, and any scheme that has planning permission, or has had funding already agreed by the Mayor will not see residents’ voices heard in the same way.

Sian Berry says:

Estate residents facing demolition, local campaigners and I have been working on this for years and I am glad that they have now won a democratic say with that happens to their homes.

Too often we have seen huge numbers of council homes demolished with residents displaced against their will in schemes that don’t provide net gains in council homes and seem to only help developers generate profits.

The Mayor says he is ‘determined to use his funding and planning powers to their fullest extent to protect social housing’ and now he should make ballots a condition, not just for funding, but also for planning permission. 
We also know that the Mayor secretly approved a number of funding schemes just before announcing this policy in February and I want reassurance that this has not happened again. I’ll be asking him to give details of any new deals signed between then and today, when this policy has finally come into force. [3]

I am very disappointed the Mayor has also not listened to my feedback to extend the right to vote in these ballots to all people who live in threatened estates, including people who rent privately from leaseholders even if they are not on the local housing list.

The chance of getting accepted for the council list varies hugely across London and this will be unfair on many private renters who already endure virtually no security.

Notes to editors

[1] Mayor’s ballots requirement for estate regeneration comes into force

[2] Involve citizens in regeneration decisions, Assembly says

[3] Mayor quietly signs off funding for 34 estates, dodging new ballot rules

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