Newham’s cabinet snubbed GCNF’s call for a deferral of its decision to move forward with plans for redevelopment of the Carpenters Estate
Newham Council plans to go forward with demolition and redevelopment of the Carpenters Estate, ignoring the Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood Forum’s call for a deferral of the decision. The estate forms a large section of the Forum’s Neighbourhood Area.
Newham council met with other stakeholders some months before the decision was taken (on Thursday 15 December). However, it failed to meet with the forum (despite its legal status as a designated neighbourhood forum) and would not provide details of its plans before they were published on its website, just a week prior to the decision being made.
Ultimately, the council will have to gain planning permission from the LLDC to proceed.
The Forum says that the council has consistently failed to provide proper engagement that would enable residents to make fully informed decisions about the future of their homes and neighbourhood. It has consistently referred to exaggerated estimates of refurbishment costs to justify demolition. It proposed that each estate tower block would cost around £12 million to refurbish, while for comparable blocks, costs have been between £3m and £4m.
It also failed to take on its full share of national council housing debt in 2011 by telling the government that 462 homes would be demolished on the Carpenters Estate by March 2017. This would suggest that demolition was proposed for other financial reasons.
Janiz Murray, secretary of the Forum and a tenant of the Carpenters Estate said “Newham Council has dismissed our calls to support our Forum’s aspirations. Our Forum is looking to achieve full refurbishment of homes along with sensitive infill development to support additional housing, employment, social infrastructure and enhanced green space and biodiversity. Our Neighbourhood Plan is being progressed to meet the LLDC’s requirements and the need of our community.”
The Planning Inspector’s report of the examination of the LLDC’s Local Plan in 2015 said “there remains the question of whether the assessment of [the council’s] refurbishment schemes [for tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate] are sufficiently up to date, and whether the most reasonable option for this area in the future has been defined”. This has encouraged the Forum to focus on alternative and bottom-up proposals.
Janiz Murry adds “incredibly, Newham aims to push forward with its plans just when the Mayor of London has published consultation on his guidance around regeneration schemes. This proposes that there should be no loss of social-rented homes in any regeneration scheme – which would be the case with Newham’s proposals. We hope to be meeting with the London Mayor’s officers about this in the near future.”
Good Practice Guide
The London Mayor has published draft Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration – for consultation. The consultation runs until 14 March 2017.
Big changes happening now
If you live on the estate you must have heard the noise and disturbance of the starts of development with the new building on the old petrol station, new tube station entrance for 2017 and the demolishing of Duncan House.
- Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood Forum and the Neighbourhood area were designated by the London Legacy Development Corporation in July 2015, despite Newham Council objections.
- The Forum has around 110 members from across the Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood Area (including residents of the Carpenters Estate surrounding blocks of flats, workers from local businesses, social and community services and indeed two Newham councillors).
- The Forum is around 6 months away from going out to consultation on its Neighbourhood Plan.
- Newham Council proposes to build 3000 homes on the Carpenters Estate almost three times the existing number of homes. It plans for 35% to be ‘affordable’ but likely only a third of these would be social-rented.
- There was a £7.1m loss in rental income and more than £2.1m loss in council tax income from the homes left empty on the Carpenters Estate just up to 31st March 2014 and there could be an additional £3million or more loss in rental income to date. In total this could probably have paid for the cost of refurbishment of the estates three tower blocks.
- A notable comparison in Southampton includes three tower blocks (Dumbledon, Meredith and Hightown) that are the same as those on the Carpenters Estate, with asbestos cement cladding and asbestos on the balcony areas. The regeneration scheme includes removal and recladding, a range of energy-saving improvements; new windows, heating systems managed by tenants, new roofs and enclosed balconies to the three tower blocks and similar refurbishment works to more than 40 walk-up blocks. The total cost for refurbishment of 1,500 homes (around three and a half times the number of homes in the tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate) is £28m. Southampton Council say the cost of works to the tower blocks (removal of asbestos cement sheets, asbestos on balcony areas, replacement cladding and new windows cost around £3m for each of the tower blocks).
What do you think?
Do you think to the Newham Council decision?
Do you live on the estate? Do you want to be move away?