A new development scheme worth £2bn in London which aims to add 6,400 new homes to the London borough of Haringey over a 20 year period has been voted in by council leaders. The developer Lendlease aims to knock down existing estates and rebuild them more densely packed housing but many locals fear local residents could be forced out as expensive homes are sold to investors.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire the standard and amount of social housing has become a key political issue in the UK with many groups suspicious of councils who are redeveloping existing social housing and replacing it with far more expensive homes. WAN’s Urban Challenge focusses on the key issues surrounding London’s Housing Crisis which include the provision of affordable housing.
Lendlease are currently transforming the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle, Southwark replacing 1,194 social-rented flats with just 82 luxury homes that are out of the reach of most Londoners. Only 20% of other properties on the scheme are classed as affordable. Dan Labbad, Leadlease’s chief executive defends the scheme saying: “I think Elephant and Castle is groundbreaking and I am very proud of it. I was thinking if Heygate was still standing today empty, or almost empty, what would it be?”
According to the Daily Telegraph, The Elephant and Castle scheme has sparked suspicion of Lendlease in Haringey where the vast scale of the plans are also causing concern. At a recent council meeting at Haringey town hall Prof Loretta Lees of the University of Leicester wrote in evidence: “The model is unproven, and the scale at which Haringey is undertaking it is unprecedented.” A campaigner went on to say, “This dwarfs anything that has gone before it. The council is out of its league here.”
Haringey Council say they were forced into action by London’s housing crisis and a report by Savills last year found that by regenerating and densifying housing estates an additional 360,000 homes could be built in London alone. Savills estimate 64,000 new homes need to be built in the capital each year to keep up with demand.
Some critics argue that councils should take on regeneration projects without developers getting involved but it is hard to see how a London council could generate the necessary finance and expertise required for a project similar to the one planned for Haringey.
As part of the WAN Urban Challenge a Symposium is being held on 12 September that will focus on solving London's Housing Crisis.