Mayor’s ballots requirement for estate regeneration comes into force

18 July 2018

From today, major estate regeneration schemes involving any demolition of social homes must have the backing of existing residents before they can receive City Hall funding, under ground-breaking new rules introduced by the Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Mayor has placed residents at the heart of estate regeneration in the capital, by introducing a new condition of City Hall funding which requires residents to have voted in favour of plans that involve the demolition of social homes. This is the first time such a condition has been introduced anywhere in the country.

Following publication of a draft version of the condition earlier this year, a consultation found 88 per cent of respondents were supportive of the Mayor’s proposals to make ballots mandatory for schemes where any demolition of social homes is planned, with the aim of putting residents at the centre of decision-making and encouraging landlords to make plans in close consultation with them.

The final version of the condition further strengthens the ballot requirements from the draft version by:

• Setting out clearly how funding can be clawed back when a project is complete if it is found not to honour the original offer from the landlord;
• Establishing the voting age at 16 and being clear that an independent body would be expected to undertake resident ballots; and
• Making clear even those schemes that have had a ballot in the past must undertake a new ballot on a landlord offer which must be honoured to receive and keep Mayoral funding.

The final version of the new funding condition works alongside the Mayor’s planning rules – as set out in ‘Better Homes for Local People’, his good practice guide to estate regeneration – which he overhauled to require any social housing demolished to be replaced like-for-like, and for affordable housing to be increased wherever possible. At any one time there are estimated to be around 35 estate regeneration schemes underway in London involving funding from City Hall, and in future new schemes will require a positive ballot to benefit from the Mayor agreeing such financial support.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “When estate regeneration is done well, it can improve the lives of existing residents as well as building more social housing. But that has not always been the case. Anyone drawing up plans for estate regeneration must involve local people and must consider what impact their plans will have on people who live there now. That is why, from now on, City Hall funding for significant estate regeneration schemes involving any demolition of social homes will, for the first time, only be approved where there has been a positive residents’ ballot.”

The Mayor also wants councils and housing associations to commit to balloting residents for schemes where his funding is not involved and where he has no power to insist on one.

Newly elected Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, said: “Balloting residents on estate redevelopments means that existing communities are truly at the heart of changes in their area. Lewisham will be balloting residents as part of our ambitious programme to build new social and genuinely affordable homes.”

The new Leader of Enfield Council Cllr Nesil Caliskan, said: “Putting residents at the heart of estate renewal is a sensible and genuinely engaging way of making sure future developments meet the needs of the people who are going to live on them. We wholeheartedly support these proposals

“We have already asked residents on the Alma Estate their views on the £315 million refurbishment of the estate and we are now proceeding rapidly with the project. We also have plans for future consultations on other major developments in our borough.”

While the Mayor has limited powers around estate regeneration, he is determined to use his funding and planning powers to their fullest extent to protect social housing and give its residents a voice in the capital. His draft London Plan sets out that there should be no net loss of social housing in estate regeneration schemes and an increase in affordable homes wherever possible.

Monica Barnes, an Optivo resident and Vice Chair of the Optivo Resident Strategy Group said: “It is great that the Mayor’s giving us more of a say over plans to regenerate housing estates. Ballots will really help people like me and other tenants to have a stronger voice.”

Last year, Sadiq broke the City Hall record for the number of genuinely affordable homes started in a single year. In 2017/2018, his new ‘Homes for Londoners’ programme saw 12,526 genuinely affordable homes started – more than in any year since City Hall took control of housing investment. Crucially this included 2,826 new homes based on social rent levels – up from zero homes for social rent in the pipeline inherited from the previous Mayor.

The Mayor’s funding condition requiring ballots was published in draft alongside ‘Better Homes for Local People’ – the first-ever City Hall guide to estate regeneration in London, which was developed following an extensive consultation process. The guide seeks to empower tenants, leaseholders and freeholders in developing regeneration plans with their landlords, and forms a key part of the Mayor’s broader calls for social housing residents to have a bigger say in the future of their estates following last year’s horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.

The Mayor believes councils have a huge part to play in tackling London’s housing crisis, and his Building Council Homes for Londoners programme is supporting them to start at least 10,000 new homes by 2022. This is the first ever City Hall programme dedicated to supporting council housing, and will use funding from the £1.67bn he secured from government in the Spring Statement 2018.

Notes to editors

• The consultation on the draft ballot funding condition, which ran from 2 February to 10 April 2018, attracted 133 responses. Seventy of these came from organisations and 63 from individual members of the public.
• 88 per cent of respondents supported or partly supported the principle of balloting residents in estate regeneration schemes.
• The funding condition has been added into the Affordable Housing Capital Funding Guide, and comes into force today. It can be accessed at: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/increasing-housing...
• There are some circumstances in which the GLA will consider applications from landlords for exemptions from the ballot requirement, including cases where there are significant safety issues for residents and where the regeneration will facilitate major infrastructure, in particular rail improvements.
• In addition, transitional arrangements have been put in place that recognise that estate regeneration projects often take place across many years and a significant number are already underway in the capital. These set out that the new condition will not be applied retrospectively to schemes that are already named in a funding contract or that already have planning permission.
• Better Homes for Local People and a consultation summary report, outlining the results of the consultation on the ballots funding condition, is available at: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/improving-quality/...