Category Archives: Posted

Anglesey dispute with the RSPB car park charges

 Here in deepest Anglesey, we are having a dispute with the RSPB over one of their reserves South Stack, which is in fact 88% public land (leased to them by the council). The RSPB plan to charge for parking on three of the four car parks at the site and there is no access via public transport and it is a remote site.

Not only is the vast amount of the land in public ownership, it was also given to the people of Anglesey for their free use. The birds at South Stack are far from being the only attraction. There is a lighthouse that is over 200 years old and is an iconic part of the landscape in Anglesey and indeed the whole of Wales. This is run on a pay by admission basis by a ‘not for profit’ company who give all of their proceeds to local projects. The rocks at South Stack were formed some 500 million years ago. There is also a scheduled ancient monument looked after by Cadw.

Any payment taken by the RSPB will go to the RSPB alone. They have proposed that on a trial basis, they charge a reduced sum of £2 an hour (originally it was to be a flat fee of £5). They have stated that they cannot guarantee that they will not put this charge back up again as it is subject to review. This parking fee is a large amount for people living on this island that has some of the most deprived areas in Wales. This is at a time when we are supposed to be encouraging exercise and ‘getting outdoors’ for the wellbeing of a nation.

They also plan to upgrade their visitor centre/café to the tune of £840,000 (some of which will be publicly funded), when done they will be sitting on a huge piece of valuable real estate. They say that they need the parking fee to justify the investment from their Trustees for the building work. If pushed, they revert to mentioning that nature needs help.

They have been refused planning permission for 4 parking payment machines by the Council but have indicated that they will now appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. I attach a petition now signed by over 6,000 against the parking, hopefully my updates within will give you plenty of information but I am happy to answer any questions.

Do any TLIO members have experience of large charities acting in this way, against the public good? Interested in any thoughts and comments on either side of the debate. With many thanks for allowing me to post.

 

https://www.change.org/p/rspb-no-to-carpark-charges-at-south-stack-ynys-lawd

Fast-track fracking plan by the government denounced

Fracking opponents have reacted with anger after ministers unveiled measures to help projects through the planning system in England, which campaigners said would make drilling a shale well as easy as building a conservatory.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/17/fast-track-fracking-plan-by-uk-government-prompts-criticism
Date: 17 May 2018 (Last modified on Fri 18 May 2018 11.53)
by Adam Vaughan, The Guardian

Shale gas explorers will be able to drill test sites in England without applying for planning permission and fracking sites could be classed as nationally significant infrastructure, meaning approval would come at a national rather than local level.

Planning authorities will also be given £1.6m to speed up fracking applications over the next two years and a new shale environmental regulator will be created this summer, under government proposals published on Thursday.

Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green party, said the plans were shocking. “Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life.

Rebecca Long Bailey MP, shadow business secretary, said: “Fracking should be banned, not promoted.

Greenpeace said the government had turned a deaf ear to communities and councils, and would make “exploratory drilling as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory”.

The progress of fracking in the UK has been glacial, with not a single well fracked since a ban was lifted in 2013.

Companies including Ineos, Cuadrilla and Third Energy have been bogged down in planning battles with local authorities. In the first three months of the year, seven of eight shale drilling plans were rejected by councils.

However, under plans outlined by the business secretary, Greg Clark, the drilling of shale wells in England will be considered permitted development, meaning no planning application is required.
For full article, click here.
[end]
  

38 Degrees Petition (written by CPRE)
The government’s trying to sneak this through quietly. But if it happens, it could set a dangerous precedent for our democracy. Not to mention the devastation it could cause to our countryside, from the Yorkshire Moors to Sherwood Forest.

This is the biggest threat to our countryside and democracy we’ve seen in a while.
Please drop measures to:
● Treat exploratory drilling as permitted development.
● Include fracking in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Regime.
Sign the Petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/don-t-fast-track-fracking
 

Background: The 2015 Infrastructure Bill, which provided new strategic powers in terms of development and planning law for government to make provision for infrastructure development with specific regard to increasing provision for greater housing development across the UK, also included specific safeguards around hydraulic fracturing. It provided automatic right of access given to “deep level” land (300m or lower) for the purposes of exploiting petroleum or deep geothermal energy, i.e. for general petrol extraction and specifically unconventional extraction or hydraulic fracturing / fracking. This put into legislative statute the right of developers involved in fracking to override the interests of surface landowners who are now no longer able to unduly object to or frustrate initiatives on the basis of works amounting to trespass. In addition, “there is the right to leave the deep level land in a different condition than before the right was exercised. This includes by leaving any substance or infrastructure in the land. Liability for any loss or damage attributable to the exercise of these rights by another person is expressly removed from resting with the landowner.” (Source: https://www.walkermorris.co.uk/publications/infrastructure-act-2015-fracking-focus/ ).




References:
[1] The Guardian: Fast-track fracking plan by the government prompts criticism:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/17/fast-track-fracking-plan-by-uk-government-prompts-criticism
The Times: Backlash as Ineos puts fracking on fast track with plans to bypass local councils:
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/backlash-as-ineos-puts-fracking-on-fast-track-with-plans-to-bypass-local-councils-m7wmrcxgm
The Independent: Government announces plan to accelerate fracking developments by fast-tracking private companies’ planning applications:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/fracking-development-government-plan-accelerate-shale-gas-carbon-emissions-a8355756.html
UK Parliament: Written statement on Energy Policy made by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which lays out the Government’s plans:
https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-05-17/HCWS690
[2] This has made it into a few news articles, like the ones above, but such a massive change to our local councils’ powers should have gone much further than that.
[3] Greenpeace: 4 reasons why we could all be fracked by fracking:
https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/3-reasons-why-we-could-all-be-fracked-fracking-20130812/
The Independent: Fracking could cause earthquakes across huge swathes of UK, warns former Downing Street adviser and seismologist:
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/uk-fracking-earthquakes-cause-shale-gas-seismic-events-government-planning-a8363411.html
[4] Guardian: How fracking can contribute to climate change:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/29/fracking-contribute-climate-change
[5] 38 Degrees: “Fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland”:
https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2017/10/03/fracking-cannot-will-not-take-place-scotland/
[6] The Guardian: UK fracking backlash: seven of eight plans rejected in 2018:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/08/uk-fracking-backlash-seven-out-of-eight-plans-rejected-in-2018
The Telegraph: Villages across the UK take up the fight against fracking:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/10209728/Villages-across-the-UK-take-up-the-fight-against-fracking.html
Friends of the Earth: Fracking in Sherwood Forest – we’re winning but it’s not over yet:
https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/fracking-sherwood-forest-were-winning-its-not-over-yet
38 Degrees: Protect Sherwood Forest:
https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/1787

Residents of Scottish island Ulva raise €5.1 million to buy out aristocrat landlord

They delayed the sale under a new Scottish law, allowing them to raise the money through public funds and private donations.

THE LAST REMAINING residents of a dramatically depopulated Scottish island pledged to rebuild their community after finalising a €5.1 million deal to buy out their aristocrat landlord.

The five tenants on the Isle of Ulva feared their way of life might be coming to an end when the island was put on the market after decades of ownership by the Howard family.

But they succeeded in delaying the sale under a new Scottish law, allowing them to raise the money through public funds and hundreds of private donations.

The Munro family and their only neighbour Barry George held a party on the island today with supporters from the neighbouring island of Mull to celebrate the sale being finalised.

“We paid just over £4.5 (€5.1) million,” Rebecca Munro, 31, told AFP, adding that a large chunk came from the Scottish Land Fund, founded in 2000 to help communities buy their land from their landlords.

We also had some really generous donations from all over the world on our Just Giving page, and we also had a significant one from the Macquarie Bank so that’s gone a huge way.

The island’s “laird” Jamie Howard put the island up for sale for £4.25 (€4.8) million, offering prospective buyers the opportunity to own “one of the finest private islands in northern Europe”.

Soon after, tycoons began flying in for viewings, raising concerns among residents that they might be removed from the island.

“When the island was on the market and the helicopters appeared, it was a real concern for us that a private owner would come in and close the island and they wouldn’t keep the residents or keep our business going,” said Munro.

‘Phenomenally beautiful’

Barry George, who has lived on the island for 22 years, told AFP: “It’s a phenomenally beautiful place, and it would be criminal to shut the place down, and that is my objective, to keep it open so that people can come and see what I see.”

The new legislation has far-reaching implications in a region where half the land is owned by just 500 people, many of them absentee aristocratic landlords with castles and vast country estates.

Ulva is an idyllic location with views of Ben More mountain and the spectacular Eas Fors Waterfall on the neighbouring island of Mull.

It once had a population of more than 800 people. But now empty cottages, an abandoned church and the disused Ulva Hostel are falling into disrepair.

“We’re never going to get back to those numbers but we need to make a healthy community so we’ll have to start doing that now,” said Rhuri Munro, 35, a fisherman.

Its decline can be traced back to the Highland Clearances, when landlords conducted a wholesale eviction of Scottish farmers in the 18th century and turned their lands over to sheep grazing.

Many Scots emigrated to the then British colonies and one Ulva native, Lachlan Macquarie, became a governor in Australia in the 19th century.

The islanders received a £500,000 (€570,000) donation from the Macquarie Group, the largest investment bank in Australia which was named after the late governor.

Roseanna Cunningham, the senior lawmaker in the Scottish government responsible for land reform, said the buyout could be the first of many.

“Scottish government officials stand ready to support any community that wants to think about doing this, urban and rural,” she told AFP.

“Ulva, in that sense, is quite iconic because it’s a big, big signal that, no matter the challenges, if you have the vision, we will support you.”

Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation

72 of the MPs who voted against the measure are registered as landlords themselves
Jon Stone @joncstone Wednesday 13 January 2016
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-vote-down-law-requiring-landlords-make-their-homes-fit-for-human-habitation-a6809691.html

Conservative MPs have voted to reject a proposed rule that would have required private landlords to make their homes “fit for human habitation”.

The vote, which came on Tuesday night, was on proposed amendment to the Government’s new Housing and Planning Bill – a raft of new laws aimed at reforming housing law.

The Labour-proposed amendment was rejected by 312 votes to 219, however.

READ MORELandlord Tory MP opposes law to make homes fit for human habitation

According to Parliament’s register of interests, 72 of the MPs who voted against the amendment are themselves landlords who derive an income from a property.

Communities minister Marcus Jones said the Government believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.

“Of course we believe that all homes should be of a decent standard and all tenants should have a safe place to live regardless of tenure, but local authorities already have strong and effective powers to deal with poor quality and safe accommodation and we expect them to use them,” he said in a reply.

Teresa Pearce, the shadow housing minister who proposed the amendment, said renters lacked “basic consumer protection” when things went wrong.

“The majority of landlords let property which is and remains in a decent standard. Many landlords go out of their way to ensure that even the slightest safety hazard is sorted quickly and efficiently,” she said.

“So it is even more distressing when we see reports of homes which are frankly unfit for human habitation being let, often at obscene prices.

“Where else in modern day life could someone get away with this? It’s a consumer issue. If I purchased a mobile phone or a computer that didn’t work, didn’t do what it said it would or was unsafe I would take it back and get a refund.”

But the Government claimed the new law would result in “unnecessary regulation”.

The proposed amendment reflects the contents of a private members bill blocked by Conservative MPs in October last year.

That bill, proposed by Labour MP Karen Buck, was “talked out” by backbenchers, including Conservative MP Philip Davies, who is himself a landlord.

During that debate he warned that landlords “appear to be an easy target for the Left in this country”.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill would have updated a law introduced in the 19th century that requires homes under a certain rent limit to be “fit for human habitation”.

That rent limit has not been updated since 1957, however, and the rule currently applies to all properties with an annual rent of below £80 in London and £52 elsewhere.

The weekly average weekly rent in London is currently £362 and practically zero properties currently fall under the legislation.

The Government’s housing bill includes provisions for starter homes, the right to buy for housing association tenants, higher rents for higher income social tenants, and some changes to speed up the planning system.

According to Parliament’s register of interests, the 72 MPs who are registered as deriving income from property of over £10,000 a year and who voted against the law are:

Nigel Adams

Stuart Andrew

Victoria Atkins

Jake Berry

James Berry

Bob Blackman

Robert Buckland

Alun Cairns

David Cameron

Alex Chalk

James Cleverley

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Therese Coffey

Geoffrey Cox

Mims Davies

Philip Davies

Richard Drax

James Duddridge

Alan Duncan

Philip Dunne

Jane Ellison

George Eustice

Mike Freer

Richard Fuller

John Glen

Robert Goodwill

Chris Grayling

Dominic Grieve

Chris Heaton-Harris

Peter Heaton-Jones

George Hollingberry

Kevin Hollinrake

Philip Hollobone

Nick Hurd

Stewart Jackson

Margot James

Sajid Javid

Joseph Johnson

Simon Kirby (teller)

Greg Knight

Brandon Lewis

Julian Lewis

Craig Mackinlay

Tania Mathias

Karl McCartney

Anne Marie Morris

Sheryll Murray

Robert Neill

Sarah Newton (teller)

Jesse Norman

David Nuttall

Neil Parish

Owen Paterson

Rebecca Pow

Jeremy Quin

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Laurence Robertson

Julian Smith

Royston Smith

Mark Spencer

John Stevenson

Desmond Swayne

Derek Thomas

Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Andrew Turner

Shailesh Vara

Theresa Villiers

Ben Wallace

David Warburton

Craig Whittaker

John Whittingdale

Nadhim Zahawi

How the extent of County Farms has halved in 40 years (from Who Owns England blog)

Source: https://whoownsengland.org/2018/06/08/how-the-extent-of-county-farms-has-halved-in-40-years/
First posted on 8th June 2018

The extent of County Farms in England has halved in the last 40 years, an investigation by Who Owns England can reveal.

County Farms are farms owned by Local Authorities and let out to young and first-time farmers, sometimes at below-market rents. They’re a vital ‘first rung on the farming ladder’ for newcomers to a sector that has high up-front capital costs: by providing the land and buildings, the public sector is helping get fresh blood into an industry where the average age of farmers is 60.

Yet the acreage of County Farms across England has plummeted from 426,695 acres in 1977 to just 215,155 acres in 2017, as data outlined below shows.

The revelation of the shocking decline in County Farms nationwide comes after Dorset County Council recently earmarked 6 of its County Farms for disposal and sale – 14% of its entire estate. This is despite the council officer’s report warning the sales would result in the loss of £95,000 in annual rents, and despite firm objections from the local branches of the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) and Country Land & Business Association (CLA).

In his widely-praised Oxford Farming Conference speech this January, Environment Secretary Michael Gove spoke about equipping the “next generation of farmers” to grow better-quality food and do more to protect the environment post-Brexit. But the ongoing sale of County Farms runs precisely counter to that: undermining prospects for the next generation of farmers, just like the housing crisis is damaging prospects for young adults more broadly.
Charting the decline of County Farms

The origins of County Farms lie in the late-Victorian agricultural depression, during which widespread cries for land reform led radical Liberal MP Joseph Chamberlain (Theresa May’s political hero) to stand for election on the promise of “three acres and a cow” for landless tenant farmers. He went on to propose a solution whereby councils would buy up land and lease it out to small tenant farmers on cheap rents. A succession of government Acts in 1892, 1908 and 1925 created County Farms, sometimes called County Smallholdings.

The area of land bought up by Local Authorities for County Farms skyrocketed between the turn of the century and the Second World War. “The smallholding movement is unique in modern agricultural history”, writes one historian. “It is the only occasion on which we see the promotion of small, rather than ever-larger farming units.” But since the end of the 1970s, thousands of acres of council-owned smallholdings have been sold off.

Click here for the original post on the Who Owns England Blog and scroll down to the end of this last paragraph to see 2 different graphs showing the rise and decline of County Farms over the past 110 years and also “Mapping the decline of County Farms – 3 case studies

 
Enough is enough – halt the sale of County Farms

The decline of the County Farms Estate mirrors wider trends in English agriculture over the past half-century, with small private farms declining and being swallowed up by ever-larger industrial farm units. Indeed, England has recently seen the rise of the megafarm. Is this the future of farming post-Brexit? If it is, it doesn’t match Michael Gove’s welcome rhetoric about creating sustainable, healthy farms fit for the 21st century. Millennials need affordable housing; young farmers need County Farms.

Fundamentally, the problem is central government cuts to local authority budgets. That much becomes clear from the long-term national statistics reviewed above: the period of decline has coincided with the era of privatisation, cuts and centralisation ushered in by Margaret Thatcher’s governments in the 1980s, and accelerated under the austerity budgets of the Coalition and current government. It’s vital the Environment Secretary intervenes to reverse this trend. A word in the ear of Phillip Hammond and James Brokenshire, to protect council budgets for County Farms and issue a Ministerial direction halting sales, could go a long way.

Enough is enough. It’s time to halt the sale of County Farms and chart a new course for agriculture in England.

Campaign groups calling for a halt to County Farm sales:

Landworkers’ Alliance
Tenant Farmers’ Association
Three Acres And A Cow
The Land is Ours

Concrete Soldiers – Saving Britain’s Council Estates and Social Housing from the Developer Philistines

Concrete Soldiers – Saving Britain’s Council Estates and Social Housing from the Developer Philistines

Three years ago I was looking at all the new developments in London and was surprised to see how much of the construction happened on old council estate land.

I started wondering why the councils wanted to sell off their valuable assets and whether there were alternatives…. That’s how Concrete Soldiers UK began…

– Three years later and Concrete Soldiers UK is not only answering my questions but it has also become a film about the fighting spirit that I encountered on the way.

I was so impressed by people and their tireless campaigning in situations which often ended with a negative outcome. It’s easy to see why people would become discouraged and just give up. But some haven’t and some even managed to succeed in their campaigns. That’s what Concrete Soldiers UK is all about.

There has been no funding for this project and there is no-one who is looking to profit from this film. My main objective is to make it accessible to as many people as possible, so there will be a download link available in the future.

Until then keep checking our social media or this website for updates. And please do arrange your own screening. This film was made for sharing,

French Police Use Tear Gas, Water Cannons against Thousands of Eco-Activism Protesters

French Police Use Tear Gas, Water Cannons against Thousands of Eco-Activism Protesters

TEHRAN (FNA)- Activists clashed with police for a sixth day in Western France. Law enforcement officials used tear gas and water cannons against crowds protesting the demolition of their ‘eco-camp’ on the site of an abandoned airport.

The demonstration drew nearly 7,000 people in support of occupants of the ZAD (French abbreviation for ‘Zone to Defend’) anarchist commune, according to France 24.

The rally erupted into open confrontation after the protesters, holding banners reading ‘Stop violence’, attempted to storm barricades erected by law enforcement officials.

Riot police fired tear gas in response to rocks and stun grenades being thrown at them. The windows of several shops were smashed and trash bins were set on fire.

Twelve protesters were arrested and nine police officers wounded, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said in a statement, denouncing what he described as “unspeakable violence.”

“Since the beginning of the week, at least 148 people have been taken care of,” including those who suffered injuries from stun grenades or developed neurological disorders (vertigo, headaches), according to a medical team set up at the activists’ camp.

Around 2,500 enforcement officials were mobilized for evictions in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, 20km from Nantes, on Monday.

Up to several hundred activists occupied the 1,650-hectare site, once reserved for a proposed airport, calling it their ‘Zone a Defendre.’

Environmental activists have actively protested against the construction of the airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes since 2008.

Throughout the week, Molotov cocktails and stun grenades were hurled through clouds of tear gas as Zadists clashed with police.


The biggest land occupation in europe still under attack.


	

The 34 Estates Approved for Destruction By Sadiq Khan Despite Promising No More Demolitions Without Residents’ Ballots

The destruction of Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, March 13, 2018 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.

Anyone paying attention to the sordid story of council estate demolitions in London will know how hard it is to take politicians seriously — and especially Labour politicians — when it comes to telling the truth about their actions and their intentions.

Perfectly sound estates are deliberately run down, so that councils can then claim that it’s too expensive to refurbish them, and that the only option is to knock them down and build new ones — with their developer friends who are conveniently waiting in the wings.

In addition, a collection of further lies are also disseminated, which divert attention from the fundamental injustice of the alleged justification for demolitions — false claims that the new housing will be “affordable”, when it isn’t; that part-ownership deals are worthwhile, when they are not; and that building new properties with private developers will reduce council waiting lists, when it won’t.

The biggest lie of this whole “regeneration” racket, therefore, is that structurally sound estates must be knocked down, while, on a day to day basis, the second biggest lie permeates all discussion with the success of Goebbels-style propaganda — the lie that “affordable” housing is affordable. Boris Johnson, in his crushingly dire eight years as London’s Mayor, decided that “affordable” meant 80% of market rents, but that is clearly not affordable, as market rents are so dizzyingly overblown — and completely unfettered by any form of legislation — that people are often paying well over half their incomes in rent, when what was long regarded as fair was a third (similarly, buying a home is now unaffordable for most people, as prices have spiralled out of reach, with a huge deposit needed for a property that costs ten times a buyer’s annual salary, when the fair model of the past used to be that it should cost no more than three and a half times one’s annual income).

Genuinely affordable rents are social rents, paid by council tenants and housing association tenants, which are generally a third of market rents, but it is these rents that central government, councils and, most recently, large housing associations, are trying to get rid of entirely. Behind it all is the stranglehold of Tory austerity, cynically implemented to destroy all public services, but few of those responsible for social housing are fighting back, and many — including many Labour councils — are actually gleefully engaged in social cleansing their boroughs of those they regard as an impediment to gentrification and wealthier incomers.

But here the extent of the delusion ought to become clear. These coveted aspirational professional young people do exist, but they can barely afford to pay the kind of costs associated with a property racket that is only really interested in couples who earn over £70,000 a year, while anyone who earns less — and is regarded as “poor” by bloated public servants who have lost touch with reality — will probably end up being priced out of the future of endless towers of new housing that are largely being bought off-plan by foreign investors, who often leave their investments empty.

Ironically, to keep most workers able to live in London, where, we should note, the mean income is no more than £20,000, compared to the average income, which is around £35,000, the government will end up having to subsidise cynically inflated new build rents, to add to the £26bn housing benefit bill, most of which goes to private landlords, when the only sensible way out of this spiral of greed is to defend social rents, stop knocking estates down, and embark on any number of visionary and large-scale not-for-profit social homebuilding projects to deliver new homes for social rent. City investors will be supportive of such a plan, because guaranteed rents over decades, even at socially rented levels, are actually a good investment, whose rationale has been lost in the forest of greed in which we currently find ourselves that is making life miserable for most renters, or driving them out of the capital altogether.

Over the last few years, the horrors of the housing market have started to become more apparent to more people, withthe Heygate development in Southwark as a grim template. There, Southwark Council sold off a Brutalist estate that could easily but mistakenly be portrayed as a sink estate, to Lendlease, rapacious international property developers. The council made no money out of the deal, but Lendlease stands to make £200m from the Heygate’s replacement, Elephant Park, which will contain just 82 units of housing for social rent, when the original estate had over a thousand socially rented flats.

The Heygate provided a template for the effective scrutiny of “regeneration”, but Southwark Council, greedy and contemptuous of its own constituents, failed to heeds its lessons, and has now started demolishing the Aylesbury Estate down the road, one of Europe’s largest estates. There has been noticeable resistance in Lambeth, to proposals to destroy two very well-designed estates, Central Hill andCressingham Gardens, and the false rationale for destruction becomes more transparent when architects and heritage bodies become involved. A powerful example of this is Robin Hood Gardens in Tower Hamlets, a visionary Brutalist estate, shamefully neglected, whose destruction is, however, well under way despite high-level support for its preservation.

Another key battleground has been Haringey, in north London, where campaigners successfully derailed the first phase of proposals by the council to enter into a giant stock transfer programme with Lendlease, and last June the Grenfell Tower disaster brought into sharp relief, how, in the most horrific manner imaginable, the lives of those who live in social housing are regarded as inferior to those with mortgages.

In autumn, Jeremy Corbyn intervened in the debate about social housing, using his conference speech to say that there must be no more estate demolitions without residents’ ballots. It was a high-profile intervention in the debate, and it set a marker for campaigners, and for the Labour left, but it lacks the teeth to stop destructive Labour Councils form continuing with their destruction, and Corbyn has persistently failed to follow up on this grand gesture by engaging in ground-level criticism of people like Peter John and Lib Peck, the leaders of Southwark and Lambeth councils respectively.

Corbyn’s promise was picked up on by Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor since 2016, who also promised that there would be no estate demolitions without ballots, but was then rumbled by hard-working and tenacious Green London Assembly member Sian Berry, who revealed, a month ago, that, as she put it in the headline of a well-read article on her website, ‘Mayor quietly signs off funding for 34 estates, dodging new ballot rules.’

Berry produced a list of the estates, which are listed below, and stated that the information showed Sadiq Khan “signing off at least over 9,000 home demolitions, leaving around 3,000 homes we can count in schemes that will subject to ballots.” She added, “In total, since the consultation closed nearly a year ago (when the Mayor knew he would have no choice but to introduce ballots) he has signed off funding for 34 estates. And 16 of these schemes have been signed off since 1 December when the Mayor and his team were finalising the new policy and gearing up to announce it.”

As she also stated, “This information paints a sorry picture, and is a harsh slap in the face to many residents on estates under threat who – thanks to his actions – will be denied a ballot at the last moment before his new policy comes in. They include the Fenwick, Cressingham Gardens, Knights Walk and other estates in Lambeth (though not Central Hill), Ham Close in Richmond, Cambridge Road in Kingston and the Aylesbury in Southwark.”

She also stated, “I am appalled by this behaviour, and with the delaying tactics involved in trying not to admit he was rushing through major schemes like this”, and added, “It is a betrayal of the residents on these 34 estates, but it will also disappoint the Mayor’s wider electorate, who are just about to vote in local elections in London. I commissioned YouGov to poll Londoners as a whole on this issue and 64 per cent backed ballots for estate residents, with only 13 per cent against, in results revealed this week.”

A spokesman for the Mayor sought to contradict Sian Berry’s claims, telling the Architects’ Journal, “The mayor made a firm public commitment not to sign off any contracts for new estate regeneration schemes during the consultation [on ballots, which ran from February to April]. No contracts for new estate regeneration schemes have been signed since the consultation on ballots opened.”

The Architects’ Journal added, “According to the mayor, the majority of the 34 decisions were made before last summer, and 16 [other] contracts signed after 1 December were for schemes already allocated funding.”

What actually happened, as careful readers will realise, is that Khan was told — by his advisors, and by councils and developers — that deals that were considered to already be underway — even if they weren’t — had to be approved before any inconvenient new hurdles like ballots could even be considered.

As Sian Berry put it, The mayor needs to think again about how the people on the estates he’s rushed through should be treated. Their right to a ballot can’t be brushed off just because he’s decided to restrict his policy only to questions of funding and pushed these deals through. Many of these estates, including Cressingham Gardens, do not yet have planning permission and the mayor could be asking for ballots to be held on these schemes, and using the results as a consideration in his planning decisions.”

The list of estates, whose destruction was approved after the end of the consultation on the guidance for estate demolition (March 14, 2017) is below, and please follow the links for further information. And what’s particularly interesting, of course, is how only 17 of London’s 32 boroughs are involved, although most of those are Labour-controlled, which is surely something worth reflecting on with London’s local elections taking place next Thursday, May 3.

The 34 estates approved for destruction from March 2017 to January 2018 by Sadiq Khan

SOUTH

Southwark (2)

Aylesbury, SE1 – 3,500 new properties, with Notting Hill Housing Trust, approved October 25, 2017.
Ongoing destruction, particularly resisted by leaseholders facing Compulsory Purchase Orders, who secured a brief but significant success in 2016. Also see ‘The State of London’, and check out the 35 Percent campaign’s detailed accounthere.

Elmington Estate, SE5 – 632 new properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
Ongoing destruction. See ‘The State of London’, and check out the 35 Percent campaign’s detailed account here.

Lambeth (5)

Cressingham Gardens, SW2 – 464 new properties, approved December 1. 2017.
Long-standing residents’ resistance to destruction of well-designed 1970s low-level estate, and close-knit community on edge of Brockwell Park. See ‘The State of London.’

Fenwick Estate, SW9 – 508 new properties, approved December 1. 2017.
Estate near Clapham North tube station, subjected to ‘managed decline’ by council. No tenants’ perspective available online.

Knights Walk, SE11 – 84 new properties, approved September 29, 2017.
Small estate, partly saved in previous resistance involving ASH (Architects for Social Housing).

South Lambeth, SW8 – 363 new properties, approved September 29, 2017.
No tenants’ perspective available online. Lambeth Council’s page is here.

Westbury Estate, SW8 – 334 new properties, approved September 29, 2017.
No tenants’ perspective available online. Lambeth Council’s page is here.

Lewisham (2)

Frankham Street, SE8 (aka Reginald Road) – 209 new properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
Long-standing battle to save a block of 16 council flats (Reginald House) and Old Tidemill Garden, a community garden, from destruction as part of the redevelopment of the old Tidemill School. Alternative plans could easily preserve the garden and flats, but the council and Peabody aren’t interested. For the resistance, see here and here.

Heathside & Lethbridge, SE10 – 459 new properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
Ongoing destruction of two estates, only one of which, the Brutalist Lethbridge Estate, is still standing. No tenants’ perspective online. See ‘The State of London.’

Greenwich (1)

Connaught, Morris Walk and Maryon, SE18 – 1,500 new properties, approved January 15, 2018.
Planned destruction of three estates. Connaught has already been demolished, and is being replaced by a new development. Morris Walk and Maryon are subjected to serious ‘managed decline.’ No tenants’ perspective online. For Maryon, see ‘The State of London.’

Bexley (1)

Arthur Street, DA8 – 310 new properties, with Orbit Group Limited, approved December 22, 2017.
Proposed development of an estate including three tower blocks in Erith. See Orbit Homes’ plans here, and this Bexley Times article.

Wandsworth (1)

St. John’s Hill, SW11 – 599 properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
The continuation of the destruction of a 1930s estates and its replacement with new properties because, as Peabody alleges,”the accommodation does not now fit the needs of residents.” They also note, “Phase 1 of the redevelopment (153 homes) was completed in April 2016 and includes 80 homes for social rent, 6 shared ownership and 67 private sale.” See Peabody’s page here.

Merton (1)

High Path, Eastfields, Ravensbury – 2,800 properties, with Clarion Housing Group, approved December 21, 2017.
See development information about these estates in South Wimbledon (High Path) and Mitcham (Eastfields, Ravensbury) on the website of Clarion (formed from the merger of Affinity Sutton and Circle Housing in 2016) here. Alocal news article last May stated, “Clarion estimate there are currently 608 homes in High Path, 465 in Eastfields and 192 in Ravensbury. Including the replacement houses, about 1660 homes will be built in High Path, 800 in Eastfields and up to 180 in Ravensbury. This means that after the replacement homes have been built for the existing tenants, an extra 1,800 homes will be available to rent and buy.” No mention was made of what these new rental costs might be.

Richmond upon Thames (1)

Ham Close – 425 properties, with Richmond Housing Partnership Limited, approved November 17, 2017.
See the Ham Close Uplift website for further information.

Kingston (1)

Cambridge Road – 2003 properties, approved October 10, 2017.
See the council’s plans here for the redevelopment of the site, which includes three tower blocks. For the residents’ association, see here, and also check out this local news article from 2016.

EAST/NORTH

Tower Hamlets (4)

Aberfeldy Estate (phases 4, 5 & 6), E14 – 206 properties, with Poplar HARCA Ltd, approved October 18, 2017.
Ongoing destruction of an estate in Poplar — a 12-year project involving the creation of over 1,000 new properties. For more information, see the website of architects Levitt Bernstein, and also see Poplar HARCA’s site. Rather pretentiously, I think, the architects claim, “The site’s illustrious past is made visible through art installations including case concrete tea crates and brass cotton reels in the landscape and paisley patterns etched in the paving. Crisp detailing and a limited material palette give the buildings a modern warehouse aesthetic.”

Blackwall Reach, E14 – 1,575 properties, with Swan Housing Association, approved March 23, 2017.
This is a much-criticised project that involves the destruction of Robin Hood Gardens, the acclaimed Brutalist masterpiece, which was, indeed, an extraordinary creation, although it was severely neglected by Tower Hamlets Council as part of very deliberate “managed decline.” For more, see ‘The State of London’ here and here.

Chrisp Street Market, E14 – 643 properties, with Poplar HARCA Ltd, approved October 18, 2017.
This contentious project involves the destruction of the first purpose-built pedestrian shopping area in the UK, created for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and associated housing, although it has met with strong local resistance, and was put on hold by the council in February 2018. See a City Metric article here.

Exmouth Estate, E1 – 80 properties, with Swan Housing Association, approved March 23, 2017.
The estate is just off the Commercial Road, but I can’t find any information available online.

Barnet (1)

Grahame Park (phase B, plots 10, 11 & 12) – 1,083 homes, with Genesis Housing Association Ltd, approved November 24, 2017.
For the council’s plans for this estate in Colindale, see here. They claim that, with Genesis, as “the developer and resident social landlord”, who have now merged with Notting Hill, they will build approximately 3,000 homes by 2032, including around 1,800 new private homes, around 900 new “affordable” homes. In addition, “Approximately 25 per cent (463) of the original homes will be retained and integrated into the new development.” Also see the Notting Hill Genesis page here.

Brent (1)

South Kilburn Estate (various phases) – 2,400 homes, with Notting Hill Housing Trust, Network Homes Ltd, L&Q and Catalyst Housing Group, approved October 23, 2017.
Ongoing destruction. For the Observer, Rowan Moore was full of praise for the new development in 2016, stating, “Thanks to the enlightened thinking of Brent council and Alison Brooks Architects, a notorious London estate that featured in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth is now the site of some of the best housing in the neighbourhood.” See Brent Council’s pagehere, and also see a review on the Municipal website here.

Enfield (1)

Alma Estate, EN3 – 993 homes, with Newlon Housing Association and Countryside, approved November 15, 2017.
Ongoing destruction of four big tower blocks in Pomders End. See ‘The State of London.’

Havering (5)

Napier House and New Plymouth House – 200 homes, approved January 31, 2018.

Waterloo Estate – 994 homes, approved January 31, 2018.

Orchard Estate (former Mardyke) – 55 homes, with Clarion Housing Group, approved December 21, 2017.

Queen Street Sheltered Housing Scheme – 6 homes, approved July 17, 2017.

Solar, Serena, Sunrise Sheltered Housing Scheme – 54 homes, approved July 17, 2017.

Barking & Dagenham (1)

Gascoigne West (Barking Town Centre) – 850 homes, approved July 27, 2017.

WEST

Kensington & Chelsea (2)

William Sutton Estate, SW3 – 270 homes, with Clarion Housing Group, approved December 21, 2017.

Wornington Green, W10 – 1,000 homes, with Catalyst Housing Ltd, approved January 8, 2018.

Ealing (4)

Friary Park – 476 homes, with Catalyst Housing Ltd, approved January 8, 2018.

Havelock Estate – 922 homes, with Catalyst Housing Ltd, approved January 8, 2018.

Green Man Lane – 770 homes, with A2Dominion Homes and Rydon/FABRICA, approved November 7, 2017.

South Acton – 2,600 homes, with L&Q, approved November 7, 2017.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author,photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based bandThe Four Fathers, whose music isavailable via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found onFacebook (and here), TwitterFlickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner listThe Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas listthe full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free tomake a donation.

23Apr18

The destruction of Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, March 13, 2018 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.


Anyone paying any attention to the sordid story of council estate demolitions in London will know how hard it is to take politicians seriously — and especially Labour politicians — when it comes to telling the truth about their actions and their intentions.

Perfectly sound estates are deliberately run down, so that councils can then claim that it’s too expensive to refurbish them, and that the only option is to knock them down and build new ones — with their developer friends who are conveniently waiting in the wings.

In addition, a collection of further lies are also disseminated, which divert attention from the fundamental injustice of the alleged justification for demolitions — false claims that the new housing will be “affordable”, when it isn’t; that part-ownership deals are worthwhile, when they are not; and that building new properties with private developers will reduce council waiting lists, when it won’t.

The biggest lie of this whole “regeneration” racket, therefore, is that structurally sound estates must be knocked down, while, on a day to day basis, the second biggest lie permeates all discussion with the success of Goebbels-style propaganda — the lie that “affordable” housing is affordable. Boris Johnson, in his crushingly dire eight years as London’s Mayor, decided that “affordable” meant 80% of market rents, but that is clearly not affordable, as market rents are so dizzyingly overblown — and completely unfettered by any form of legislation — that people are often paying well over half their incomes in rent, when what was long regarded as fair was a third (similarly, buying a home is now unaffordable for most people, as prices have spiralled out of reach, with a huge deposit needed for a property that costs ten times a buyer’s annual salary, when the fair model of the past used to be that it should cost no more than three and a half times one’s annual income).

Genuinely affordable rents are social rents, paid by council tenants and housing association tenants, which are generally a third of market rents, but it is these rents that central government, councils and, most recently, large housing associations, are trying to get rid of entirely. Behind it all is the stranglehold of Tory austerity, cynically implemented to destroy all public services, but few of those responsible for social housing are fighting back, and many — including many Labour councils — are actually gleefully engaged in social cleansing their boroughs of those they regard as an impediment to gentrification and wealthier incomers.

But here the extent of the delusion ought to become clear. These coveted aspirational professional young people do exist, but they can barely afford to pay the kind of costs associated with a property racket that is only really interested in couples who earn over £70,000 a year, while anyone who earns less — and is regarded as “poor” by bloated public servants who have lost touch with reality — will probably end up being priced out of the future of endless towers of new housing that are largely being bought off-plan by foreign investors, who often leave their investments empty.

Ironically, to keep most workers able to live in London, where, we should note, the mean income is no more than £20,000, compared to the average income, which is around £35,000, the government will end up having to subsidise cynically inflated new build rents, to add to the £26bn housing benefit bill, most of which goes to private landlords, when the only sensible way out of this spiral of greed is to defend social rents, stop knocking estates down, and embark on any number of visionary and large-scale not-for-profit social homebuilding projects to deliver new homes for social rent. City investors will be supportive of such a plan, because guaranteed rents over decades, even at socially rented levels, are actually a good investment, whose rationale has been lost in the forest of greed in which we currently find ourselves that is making life miserable for most renters, or driving them out of the capital altogether.

Over the last few years, the horrors of the housing market have started to become more apparent to more people, with the Heygate development in Southwark as a grim template. There, Southwark Council sold off a Brutalist estate that could easily but mistakenly be portrayed as a sink estate, to Lendlease, rapacious international property developers. The council made no money out of the deal, but Lendlease stands to make £200m from the Heygate’s replacement, Elephant Park, which will contain just 82 units of housing for social rent, when the original estate had over a thousand socially rented flats.

The Heygate provided a template for the effective scrutiny of “regeneration”, but Southwark Council, greedy and contemptuous of its own constituents, failed to heeds its lessons, and has now started demolishing the Aylesbury Estate down the road, one of Europe’s largest estates. There has been noticeable resistance in Lambeth, to proposals to destroy two very well-designed estates, Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens, and the false rationale for destruction becomes more transparent when architects and heritage bodies become involved. A powerful example of this is Robin Hood Gardens in Tower Hamlets, a visionary Brutalist estate, shamefully neglected, whose destruction is, however, well under way despite high-level support for its preservation.

Another key battleground has been Haringey, in north London, where campaigners successfully derailed the first phase of proposals by the council to enter into a giant stock transfer programme with Lendlease, and last June the Grenfell Tower disaster brought into sharp relief, how, in the most horrific manner imaginable, the lives of those who live in social housing are regarded as inferior to those with mortgages.

In autumn, Jeremy Corbyn intervened in the debate about social housing, using his conference speech to say that there must be no more estate demolitions without residents’ ballots. It was a high-profile intervention in the debate, and it set a marker for campaigners, and for the Labour left, but it lacks the teeth to stop destructive Labour Councils form continuing with their destruction, and Corbyn has persistently failed to follow up on this grand gesture by engaging in ground-level criticism of people like Peter John and Lib Peck, the leaders of Southwark and Lambeth councils respectively.

Corbyn’s promise was picked up on by Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor since 2016, who also promised that there would be no estate demolitions without ballots, but was then rumbled by hard-working and tenacious Green London Assembly member Sian Berry, who revealed, a month ago, that, as she put it in the headline of a well-read article on her website, ‘Mayor quietly signs off funding for 34 estates, dodging new ballot rules.’

Berry produced a list of the estates, which are listed below, and stated that the information showed Sadiq Khan “signing off at least over 9,000 home demolitions, leaving around 3,000 homes we can count in schemes that will subject to ballots.” She added, “In total, since the consultation closed nearly a year ago (when the Mayor knew he would have no choice but to introduce ballots) he has signed off funding for 34 estates. And 16 of these schemes have been signed off since 1 December when the Mayor and his team were finalising the new policy and gearing up to announce it.”

As she also stated, “This information paints a sorry picture, and is a harsh slap in the face to many residents on estates under threat who – thanks to his actions – will be denied a ballot at the last moment before his new policy comes in. They include the Fenwick, Cressingham Gardens, Knights Walk and other estates in Lambeth (though not Central Hill), Ham Close in Richmond, Cambridge Road in Kingston and the Aylesbury in Southwark.”

She also stated, “I am appalled by this behaviour, and with the delaying tactics involved in trying not to admit he was rushing through major schemes like this”, and added, “It is a betrayal of the residents on these 34 estates, but it will also disappoint the Mayor’s wider electorate, who are just about to vote in local elections in London. I commissioned YouGov to poll Londoners as a whole on this issue and 64 per cent backed ballots for estate residents, with only 13 per cent against, in results revealed this week.”

A spokesman for the Mayor sought to contradict Sian Berry’s claims, telling the Architects’ Journal, “The mayor made a firm public commitment not to sign off any contracts for new estate regeneration schemes during the consultation [on ballots, which ran from February to April]. No contracts for new estate regeneration schemes have been signed since the consultation on ballots opened.”

The Architects’ Journal added, “According to the mayor, the majority of the 34 decisions were made before last summer, and 16 [other] contracts signed after 1 December were for schemes already allocated funding.”

What actually happened, as careful readers will realise, is that Khan was told — by his advisors, and by councils and developers — that deals that were considered to already be underway — even if they weren’t — had to be approved before any inconvenient new hurdles like ballots could even be considered.

As Sian Berry put it, The mayor needs to think again about how the people on the estates he’s rushed through should be treated. Their right to a ballot can’t be brushed off just because he’s decided to restrict his policy only to questions of funding and pushed these deals through. Many of these estates, including Cressingham Gardens, do not yet have planning permission and the mayor could be asking for ballots to be held on these schemes, and using the results as a consideration in his planning decisions.”

The list of estates, whose destruction was approved after the end of the consultation on the guidance for estate demolition (March 14, 2017) is below, and please follow the links for further information. And what’s particularly interesting, of course, is how only 17 of London’s 32 boroughs are involved, although most of those are Labour-controlled, which is surely something worth reflecting on with London’s local elections taking place next Thursday, May 3.

The 34 estates approved for destruction from March 2017 to January 2018 by Sadiq Khan

SOUTH

Southwark (2)

Aylesbury, SE1 – 3,500 new properties, with Notting Hill Housing Trust, approved October 25, 2017.
Ongoing destruction, particularly resisted by leaseholders facing Compulsory Purchase Orders, who secured a brief but significant success in 2016. Also see ‘The State of London’, and check out the 35 Percent campaign’s detailed account here.

Elmington Estate, SE5 – 632 new properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
Ongoing destruction. See ‘The State of London’, and check out the 35 Percent campaign’s detailed account here.

Lambeth (5)

Cressingham Gardens, SW2 – 464 new properties, approved December 1. 2017.
Long-standing residents’ resistance to destruction of well-designed 1970s low-level estate, and close-knit community on edge of Brockwell Park. See ‘The State of London.’

Fenwick Estate, SW9 – 508 new properties, approved December 1. 2017.
Estate near Clapham North tube station, subjected to ‘managed decline’ by council. No tenants’ perspective available online.

Knights Walk, SE11 – 84 new properties, approved September 29, 2017.
Small estate, partly saved in previous resistance involving ASH (Architects for Social Housing).

South Lambeth, SW8 – 363 new properties, approved September 29, 2017.
No tenants’ perspective available online. Lambeth Council’s page is here.

Westbury Estate, SW8 – 334 new properties, approved September 29, 2017.
No tenants’ perspective available online. Lambeth Council’s page is here.

Lewisham (2)

Frankham Street, SE8 (aka Reginald Road) – 209 new properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
Long-standing battle to save a block of 16 council flats (Reginald House) and Old Tidemill Garden, a community garden, from destruction as part of the redevelopment of the old Tidemill School. Alternative plans could easily preserve the garden and flats, but the council and Peabody aren’t interested. For the resistance, see here and here.

Heathside & Lethbridge, SE10 – 459 new properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
Ongoing destruction of two estates, only one of which, the Brutalist Lethbridge Estate, is still standing. No tenants’ perspective online. See ‘The State of London.’

Greenwich (1)

Connaught, Morris Walk and Maryon, SE18 – 1,500 new properties, approved January 15, 2018.
Planned destruction of three estates. Connaught has already been demolished, and is being replaced by a new development. Morris Walk and Maryon are subjected to serious ‘managed decline.’ No tenants’ perspective online. For Maryon, see ‘The State of London.’

Bexley (1)

Arthur Street, DA8 – 310 new properties, with Orbit Group Limited, approved December 22, 2017.
Proposed development of an estate including three tower blocks in Erith. See Orbit Homes’ plans here, and this Bexley Times article.

Wandsworth (1)

St. John’s Hill, SW11 – 599 properties, with Peabody Trust, approved January 22, 2018.
The continuation of the destruction of a 1930s estates and its replacement with new properties because, as Peabody alleges,”the accommodation does not now fit the needs of residents.” They also note, “Phase 1 of the redevelopment (153 homes) was completed in April 2016 and includes 80 homes for social rent, 6 shared ownership and 67 private sale.” See Peabody’s page here.

Merton (1)

High Path, Eastfields, Ravensbury – 2,800 properties, with Clarion Housing Group, approved December 21, 2017.
See development information about these estates in South Wimbledon (High Path) and Mitcham (Eastfields, Ravensbury) on the website of Clarion (formed from the merger of Affinity Sutton and Circle Housing in 2016) here. A local news article last May stated, “Clarion estimate there are currently 608 homes in High Path, 465 in Eastfields and 192 in Ravensbury. Including the replacement houses, about 1660 homes will be built in High Path, 800 in Eastfields and up to 180 in Ravensbury. This means that after the replacement homes have been built for the existing tenants, an extra 1,800 homes will be available to rent and buy.” No mention was made of what these new rental costs might be.

Richmond upon Thames (1)

Ham Close – 425 properties, with Richmond Housing Partnership Limited, approved November 17, 2017.
See the Ham Close Uplift website for further information.

Kingston (1)

Cambridge Road – 2003 properties, approved October 10, 2017.
See the council’s plans here for the redevelopment of the site, which includes three tower blocks. For the residents’ association, see here, and also check out this local news article from 2016.

EAST/NORTH

Tower Hamlets (4)

Aberfeldy Estate (phases 4, 5 & 6), E14 – 206 properties, with Poplar HARCA Ltd, approved October 18, 2017.
Ongoing destruction of an estate in Poplar — a 12-year project involving the creation of over 1,000 new properties. For more information, see the website of architects Levitt Bernstein, and also see Poplar HARCA’s site. Rather pretentiously, I think, the architects claim, “The site’s illustrious past is made visible through art installations including case concrete tea crates and brass cotton reels in the landscape and paisley patterns etched in the paving. Crisp detailing and a limited material palette give the buildings a modern warehouse aesthetic.”

Blackwall Reach, E14 – 1,575 properties, with Swan Housing Association, approved March 23, 2017.
This is a much-criticised project that involves the destruction of Robin Hood Gardens, the acclaimed Brutalist masterpiece, which was, indeed, an extraordinary creation, although it was severely neglected by Tower Hamlets Council as part of very deliberate “managed decline.” For more, see ‘The State of London’ here and here.

Chrisp Street Market, E14 – 643 properties, with Poplar HARCA Ltd, approved October 18, 2017.
This contentious project involves the destruction of the first purpose-built pedestrian shopping area in the UK, created for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and associated housing, although it has met with strong local resistance, and was put on hold by the council in February 2018. See a City Metric article here.

Exmouth Estate, E1 – 80 properties, with Swan Housing Association, approved March 23, 2017.
The estate is just off the Commercial Road, but I can’t find any information available online.

Barnet (1)

Grahame Park (phase B, plots 10, 11 & 12) – 1,083 homes, with Genesis Housing Association Ltd, approved November 24, 2017.
For the council’s plans for this estate in Colindale, see here. They claim that, with Genesis, as “the developer and resident social landlord”, who have now merged with Notting Hill, they will build approximately 3,000 homes by 2032, including around 1,800 new private homes, around 900 new “affordable” homes. In addition, “Approximately 25 per cent (463) of the original homes will be retained and integrated into the new development.” Also see the Notting Hill Genesis page here.

Brent (1)

South Kilburn Estate (various phases) – 2,400 homes, with Notting Hill Housing Trust, Network Homes Ltd, L&Q and Catalyst Housing Group, approved October 23, 2017.
Ongoing destruction. For the Observer, Rowan Moore was full of praise for the new development in 2016, stating, “Thanks to the enlightened thinking of Brent council and Alison Brooks Architects, a notorious London estate that featured in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth is now the site of some of the best housing in the neighbourhood.” See Brent Council’s page here, and also see a review on the Municipal website here.

Enfield (1)

Alma Estate, EN3 – 993 homes, with Newlon Housing Association and Countryside, approved November 15, 2017.
Ongoing destruction of four big tower blocks in Pomders End. See ‘The State of London.’

Havering (5)

Napier House and New Plymouth House – 200 homes, approved January 31, 2018.

Waterloo Estate – 994 homes, approved January 31, 2018.

Orchard Estate (former Mardyke) – 55 homes, with Clarion Housing Group, approved December 21, 2017.

Queen Street Sheltered Housing Scheme – 6 homes, approved July 17, 2017.

Solar, Serena, Sunrise Sheltered Housing Scheme – 54 homes, approved July 17, 2017.

Barking & Dagenham (1)

Gascoigne West (Barking Town Centre) – 850 homes, approved July 27, 2017.

WEST

Kensington & Chelsea (2)

William Sutton Estate, SW3 – 270 homes, with Clarion Housing Group, approved December 21, 2017.

Wornington Green, W10 – 1,000 homes, with Catalyst Housing Ltd, approved January 8, 2018.

Ealing (4)

Friary Park – 476 homes, with Catalyst Housing Ltd, approved January 8, 2018.

Havelock Estate – 922 homes, with Catalyst Housing Ltd, approved January 8, 2018.

Green Man Lane – 770 homes, with A2Dominion Homes and Rydon/FABRICA, approved November 7, 2017.

South Acton – 2,600 homes, with L&Q, approved November 7, 2017.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), TwitterFlickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner listThe Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas listthe full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Sat 14th April 2018: Tour of London’s land & housing crisis by the Land Justice Network

THE LANDLORD’S GAME: A tour of London’s land & housing crisis
Saturday 14th April 2018

Join the Land Justice Network for a walking tour of London’s land and housing crisis on Saturday 14th April 2018, 1pm-4pm. Meet 1pm in Brown Hart Gardens on Duke St, near Bond St Tube. Facebook event here.

London faces a housing crisis of epic proportions, with homelessness rife, house prices sky-high and many people unable to afford a home.

At root, the housing crisis is a land crisis. London is home to millions of people – but the land on which it’s built is effectively monopolised by a handful of wealthy estates.

Join us for a tour of some of the most expensive locations on the Monopoly board: places that Dukes and Earls inherited as fields hundreds of years ago, but now – thanks to a lucky roll of the dice – is some of the hottest super-prime real estate on the planet. Along our route, you’ll see Mayfair mansions left empty for nearly 15 years, discover properties owned in offshore tax havens, and find out the truth about who owns London.

It’s time for change. The Land Justice Network has organised this tour to showcase some of the root causes of London’s land and housing crisis – and call for change.

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The Landlord’s Game is part of a wider Week of Action…..

LORD vs COMMONERS: A Week of Action for Land Rights, 14th-22nd April

The Land Justice Network (LJN) has called a Week of Action around the theme of ‘Lords vs Commoners’ for the 14th-22nd April.

According to the Country Land and Business Association, 0.06% of the population own 50% of the rural land of England and Wales.

The Week of Action is intended to draw attention to the current unequal distribution of land in England and Wales, by inviting you to organise an event in your area and share photos and stories of what you do. This could be a public meeting or protest or maybe a banner drop, occupation or mass trespass.

You can find out more on the LJN website here and on the event Facebook page. Leaflet here