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Creating a More Sustainable Elephant

Aylesbury Estate - Facts and Figures

There are a few subtle differences between the Heygate and the Aylesbury regeneration schemes. The first is that Heygate residents were denied a ballot on the future of their estate, whereas Aylesbury residents were fully balloted. Page 2 of This 2005 Council Executive Committee report shows the results of the ballot:

Further down in the report, the Council tries to speculate as to the reasons behind the residents’ comprehensive rejection of its redevelopment plans:

Note the Council’s observation that “some residents didn’t believe the new Housing Association would be able to keep its commitments on rents and service charges” .

We are now starting to see that residents’ early concerns about rent increases were very well founded. In the legal agreement for the most recent phase of the Aylesbury scheme to be granted planning approval, the definition of social rented housing refers to the London Plan and HCA definition of affordable rented housing of up to 80% market rents:

So whilst tenants will have the right to return to a new housing association property in the scheme, the new ‘social’ housing rents will be significantly higher than the existing Council rents.

This table from the Council’s June 2014 Affordable Rent Product Study shows Southwark’s market rent figures for a 1-bed flat at £289 per week for the Aylesbury postcode (SE17). 80% of this will well over double the existing Council rents on the estate and affordable to very few existing Council tenants.

Refurbishment vs Demolition

Council briefing papers show that the Council is estimated to be spending a staggering £150m emptying and demolishing the Aylesbury estate.

As we pointed out in our previous blog post, other London boroughs are making better use of their scarce resources. Islington has an estate called the Six Acres estate near Finsbury Park. The Six Acres estate was built at the same time as Heygate & Aylesury, by the same contractors (Laing) using the same system (Jespersen 12M).

Instead of demolshing its estate and handing it over to the private sector at a loss, Islington Council chose to refurbish the Six Acres estate in 2012. The 473 homes on the estate were refurbished with new external wall insulation, new entry doors, exterior furnishing improvements, green roofs and cycle shelters.

The entire Six Acres estate refurbishment and public realm improvement works cost a total of just £5.15m. This works out at around £10k per dwelling; far less than the circa £60k per dwelling that Southwark Council is spending on emptying and demolshing the Aylesbury estate (£150m/2500 homes).

Extensive research by the University College London and case studies by leading architects has shown that refurbishment is better not just financially, but also socially and environmentally.

More information about the Six Acres estate regeneration can be found here, here, here and under planning application ref: P072153 on Islington Council’s Planning Portal.

Six Acres estate before regen - more photos [here.]
Six Acres estate after regen - more photos [here.]