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Creating a More Sustainable Elephant

“Let us begin by dismissing all the facts.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Ten Heygate Myths:

  • The Heygate was built on a WW2 bomb site. False: the Victorian streets preceding the Heygate were bombed in the war, but only very lightly: most of the buildings remained intact until they were demolished - not for structural reasons - in the late 1960’s.

  • The Heygate is being demolished because the buildings are defective. False: the buildings on the estate were declared structurally sound by a council-commissioned survey in 1998.

  • The Heygate is being demolished because the buildings contain asbestos. False: The buildings do still contain asbestos, but all exposed asbestos was removed during major works in the late 1980s- see 1998 survey. Note that the E&C shopping centre, Metro Heights, Peronnet House etc. all still contain asbestos; as do most buildings constructed throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

  • The Heygate is being demolished because the council didn’t have enough money to maintain the existing buildings. False: The same council-commissioned survey made cost estimates and stated clearly that the cost of demolition would be greater than the cost of repair/refurbishment.

  • Former Heygate residents have been given the ‘right to return’ to flats in the new development on the site. True: But the new social-rented flats will be provided under the new 80%-of-market-rent scheme and will cost £275 for a 1-bed flat and £549 per week for a 4-bed flat.

  • The scheme will produce 5,000 new homes. True: But it will also see the needless demolition of 1,200 perfectly good homes on the Heygate estate, and most of the new homes will be bought up by foreign buy-to-let investors: this report confirms that last year two thirds of all new-build properties in London were sold to overseas investors.

  • The scheme will create thousands of new jobs. True: But most of these will be low-paid unskilled jobs in high-street retail stores and there is no guarantee that the new jobs will go to local people. The final masterplan contains no mechanisms to ensure this, (i.e. no minimum local jobs target, no procurement policies that support local providers, no working with voluntary and community sector employment/training providers, no minimum London wage guarantee).

  • The Heygate was blighted by crime and anti-social behaviour. False: This does not correlate with the official crime statistics for the estate. These show a very low level of crime compared to the average crime rate for the borough as a whole- see report here.

  • ‘The loss of 1,260 social-rented flats on the Heygate will be compensated by the construction of new social-rented flats in the area’. False: Only 612 social-rented units at council ‘target rents’ are due to be built in the E&C opportunity area. Click here for details

  • The demoliton of the Heygate is being held up by a handful of Leaseholders who are holding out for more money. False: The last remaining leaseholders on the estate are unable to relocate with the below-market valuations that are being offered for the homes.