Establishing resident support for estate regeneration options

Meeting: 
MQT on 2016-07-20
Session date: 
July 20, 2016
Reference: 
2016/2410
Question By: 
Siân Berry
Organisation: 
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

How will your new guidance establish whether residents support development options for council estates?

Answer

Answer for Establishing resident support for estate regeneration options

Answer for Establishing resident support for estate regeneration options

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Assembly Member Berry.  I know that when estate regeneration is done well, it can really improve people’s lives, from mending or replacing buildings that are falling apart and full of damp to reducing antisocial behaviour where it exists.  As well as improving estates, good regeneration can make the best use of existing land to build new and affordable homes.  In some cases, this involves building new homes in unused areas such as underused carparks or disused garages.  In other cases, it may mean rebuilding existing blocks or, particularly where there are structural issues with buildings, more wide scale rebuilding.

 

I have seen a wide range of different approaches to regeneration and clearly some have been more contentious than others.  I want to develop guidance that will help councils work with residents on improvements we can be proud of.  In my view, regeneration should only go ahead where there is resident support.

 

As I said, regeneration covers a wide range of approaches and it does not always include full or even any demolition of existing buildings.  I want to be clear that where demolition takes place, it can only happen as a last resort with full rights of return for displaced tenants and a fair deal for leaseholders.

 

The principles of residents being properly engaged and having clearly guaranteed rights will guide my team’s work in this area.  I have asked my team to begin producing guidance on what meaningful engagement with residents looks like, with examples of what good practice looks like and gaining resident support for regeneration plans.

 

Although it is still early days in the development of the guidance, I will bring forward draft plans as soon as possible.  I would also welcome any suggestions that you have to offer and encourage you to speak to my Deputy Mayor for Housing [James Murray] about them.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Thank you for that answer.  I wanted to ask a couple of questions for clarification in terms of the options you are looking at within that guidance.  One group that is often overlooked during engagement processes is private tenants, the ones who might be renting former right‑to‑buy flats from leaseholders.  When you talk about being properly engaged with residents, will you be including private renters in those processes?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes, but, Chairman, one of the things we are seeking to include are private tenants who rent from leaseholders.  It is important to include them as well.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Fantastic.  I have asked you questions about that previously and you have not actually named them.  It is so easy to overlook them but hopefully they will be named in your new guidance.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am hoping, as I come back again and again, there will be more information.  It is difficult to nail in the first four weeks but we are now at week 10 and so I can give you that assurance which you have asked for.

 

Sian Berry AM:  That is great and I will be looking forward to working with you on that.

 

Other questions I have asked you about estate regeneration are about whether you are considering using ballots to establish resident support.  That is a key question.  How do you know for certain that you have the support of residents for the options?  Are you considering using ballots for that?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are looking at a wide range of consultee responses and so I would advise Assembly Member Berry to speak to the Deputy Mayor for Housing, James Murray.  For example, the range of consultation measures could be along the planning application process consultation, involving tenants on residents’ boards being involved in consultation, requiring development partners to consult with residents, going door-to-door to seek views, consultation and masterplans.  What we are trying to do is to collate the best practice and what we do not want is a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

Sian Berry AM:  That makes sense but your manifesto - and you have just reiterated it - is that you will only go ahead with demolition when there is resident support and so it is important to have a real measure of that.  What we have seen in the past is real problems with consultations, limited levels of engagement, sometimes limited options put forward before there was consultation at all and often leading questions.  We have even seen some councils ignoring the results of a consultation and dismissing it as saying, “Only the objectors responded”, which does not make sense at all.

 

It is important to have something much more than the statutory minimum requirements for consultation and you have said that you are going to do that.  How will you actually measure resident support?  Are you looking at ballots for that?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Some of the things we are looking into are what best practice is and how we can involve as many residents as possible.  We do not simply want those who shout the loudest to be heard.  What about those who do not respond?  These are some of the things that we are looking into.  I am not in favour of thresholds or those sorts things.  We have to recognise some people who may be affected by regeneration may not respond and so how do we get them to respond?  That is why I have talked about the range of ways - whether it is door-to-door, whether it is using social media - to get more people involved in things that affect their community.

 

Sian Berry AM:  We will be keeping a close eye on that.  What date should we expect a draft of your new guidance?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are working flat out and we will try to get back as soon as we can.  Hopefully, you will be speaking to the Deputy Mayor of Housing and he can give you a more accurate answer as to timelines.  The sooner we do the better because in the meantime there are things happening and so we are quite keen to get on with it.

 

Sian Berry AM:  I will contact him about that.  Once you have established the principles that you will put out in your draft, will you immediately start to apply those to schemes you have control over, for example, within the Housing Zones?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are keen to make sure that we do not breach the law in relation to improper obligations on local authorities.  I am keen to get the best practice done as soon as possible and to get it being used as soon as possible.  That is the idea.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Thank you.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Assembly Member Berry.  I know that when estate regeneration is done well, it can really improve people’s lives, from mending or replacing buildings that are falling apart and full of damp to reducing antisocial behaviour where it exists.  As well as improving estates, good regeneration can make the best use of existing land to build new and affordable homes.  In some cases, this involves building new homes in unused areas such as underused carparks or disused garages.  In other cases, it may mean rebuilding existing blocks or, particularly where there are structural issues with buildings, more wide scale rebuilding.

 

I have seen a wide range of different approaches to regeneration and clearly some have been more contentious than others.  I want to develop guidance that will help councils work with residents on improvements we can be proud of.  In my view, regeneration should only go ahead where there is resident support.

 

As I said, regeneration covers a wide range of approaches and it does not always include full or even any demolition of existing buildings.  I want to be clear that where demolition takes place, it can only happen as a last resort with full rights of return for displaced tenants and a fair deal for leaseholders.

 

The principles of residents being properly engaged and having clearly guaranteed rights will guide my team’s work in this area.  I have asked my team to begin producing guidance on what meaningful engagement with residents looks like, with examples of what good practice looks like and gaining resident support for regeneration plans.

 

Although it is still early days in the development of the guidance, I will bring forward draft plans as soon as possible.  I would also welcome any suggestions that you have to offer and encourage you to speak to my Deputy Mayor for Housing [James Murray] about them.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Thank you for that answer.  I wanted to ask a couple of questions for clarification in terms of the options you are looking at within that guidance.  One group that is often overlooked during engagement processes is private tenants, the ones who might be renting former right‑to‑buy flats from leaseholders.  When you talk about being properly engaged with residents, will you be including private renters in those processes?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes, but, Chairman, one of the things we are seeking to include are private tenants who rent from leaseholders.  It is important to include them as well.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Fantastic.  I have asked you questions about that previously and you have not actually named them.  It is so easy to overlook them but hopefully they will be named in your new guidance.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am hoping, as I come back again and again, there will be more information.  It is difficult to nail in the first four weeks but we are now at week 10 and so I can give you that assurance which you have asked for.

 

Sian Berry AM:  That is great and I will be looking forward to working with you on that.

 

Other questions I have asked you about estate regeneration are about whether you are considering using ballots to establish resident support.  That is a key question.  How do you know for certain that you have the support of residents for the options?  Are you considering using ballots for that?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are looking at a wide range of consultee responses and so I would advise Assembly Member Berry to speak to the Deputy Mayor for Housing, James Murray.  For example, the range of consultation measures could be along the planning application process consultation, involving tenants on residents’ boards being involved in consultation, requiring development partners to consult with residents, going door-to-door to seek views, consultation and masterplans.  What we are trying to do is to collate the best practice and what we do not want is a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

Sian Berry AM:  That makes sense but your manifesto - and you have just reiterated it - is that you will only go ahead with demolition when there is resident support and so it is important to have a real measure of that.  What we have seen in the past is real problems with consultations, limited levels of engagement, sometimes limited options put forward before there was consultation at all and often leading questions.  We have even seen some councils ignoring the results of a consultation and dismissing it as saying, “Only the objectors responded”, which does not make sense at all.

 

It is important to have something much more than the statutory minimum requirements for consultation and you have said that you are going to do that.  How will you actually measure resident support?  Are you looking at ballots for that?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Some of the things we are looking into are what best practice is and how we can involve as many residents as possible.  We do not simply want those who shout the loudest to be heard.  What about those who do not respond?  These are some of the things that we are looking into.  I am not in favour of thresholds or those sorts things.  We have to recognise some people who may be affected by regeneration may not respond and so how do we get them to respond?  That is why I have talked about the range of ways - whether it is door-to-door, whether it is using social media - to get more people involved in things that affect their community.

 

Sian Berry AM:  We will be keeping a close eye on that.  What date should we expect a draft of your new guidance?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are working flat out and we will try to get back as soon as we can.  Hopefully, you will be speaking to the Deputy Mayor of Housing and he can give you a more accurate answer as to timelines.  The sooner we do the better because in the meantime there are things happening and so we are quite keen to get on with it.

 

Sian Berry AM:  I will contact him about that.  Once you have established the principles that you will put out in your draft, will you immediately start to apply those to schemes you have control over, for example, within the Housing Zones?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are keen to make sure that we do not breach the law in relation to improper obligations on local authorities.  I am keen to get the best practice done as soon as possible and to get it being used as soon as possible.  That is the idea.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Thank you.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you.