The Residents' Charter for Estate Regeneration
London is in the grip of a severe housing crisis. There is an increasing lack of council housing across Lewisham: there are currently around 2,300 Lewisham families in temporary accommodation, of which over 700 people are in nightly paid accommodation.
We are tackling this crisis by investing in our homes and building the modern, sustainable and genuinely affordable homes that our residents desperately need. Estate regeneration has many benefits for both new and existing residents. These include:
- replacing old properties with new homes
- improving security
- improving public areas
- creating new facilities
It also gives us the opportunity to deliver more genuinely affordable homes for the thousands of residents waiting for a safe, decent and secure home. However, we recognise that for our residents living in housing estates, the regeneration of their estate can be a real concern. In 2018, the Mayor announced that we would develop a Residents’ Charter. This would provide guarantees to our residents living on Council housing estates which are being considered for estate regeneration. Since 2018, we have been working with our residents to get their views on what really matters to them. At public events and via an online consultation hub, we have been asking residents what commitments we should be making when we plan any potential estate regeneration projects. More than 220 people responded to this consultation and their invaluable input has allowed us to form the nine principles that make up the Residents’ Charter.
1. Before any estate regeneration, a Residents’ Ballot will take place to give you a say in the future of your estate. To help you make an informed decision, we will make you a formal offer – in writing – which you can then choose to accept or reject in the ballot.
Residents need to be at the heart of any decision that concerns how new homes can be provided within their communities. To make sure this happens, a Residents’ Ballot will be held on any redevelopment proposal that results in the demolition of existing homes to create new housing.
The ballot will be held at the early stages of the estate regeneration. This timing will be based on the principles of the proposed development, along with the specific commitments made to the community. We will present this proposal in a document called the ‘Landlord Offer’ which will be available to residents before the ballot takes place.
The ballot will be a simple ‘yes – in favour’ or ‘no – against’ the proposal. The development proposals will only progress if the majority of votes cast are ‘yes – in favour’.
2. We guarantee to build an increased amount of homes for social rent. Any proposals for estate regeneration will be driven by our priority to increase genuinely affordable homes.
There is a severe shortage of affordable housing in the borough. We are committed to delivering as many new, affordable homes as possible for our residents. Building new homes on our housing estates can make a significant difference to our residents waiting for secure homes. We will therefore only consider regenerating an estate where we can build more affordable homes than there were before the regeneration took place.
3. We will communicate regularly with all residents, using a range of formats. As a minimum we will write to every affected resident every three months in the run up to a Residents’ Ballot and then throughout the design, planning and eventual construction process, presenting transparent information that is accessible to everyone.
It is essential that residents are kept informed of the plans for their community at all times. Because our residents access information in different ways, we will provide information in different formats, including:
- social media
- face-to-face meetings
Translation services will be available where required. We will provide written information at least every three months. However, in the majority of cases, we will contact the residents much more frequently.
4. Everyone will have the opportunity to help shape the proposals and all estate residents will be encouraged to participate in the design process and nominate individuals to form a Residents’ Steering Group which will work alongside the Council’s Estate Design Team to help inform decisions through the design, planning and construction phases.
All residents will have the opportunity to take part in the design process, regardless of their previous situations. Resident representatives will be selected to form a Residents’ Steering Group. This group will provide support and train residents to be part of the design process. Our aim is to allow residents to participate in decision-making on all aspects of the redevelopment proposal.
5. If you are a Council tenant who wishes to stay on the estate, you will be guaranteed an offer of a new home at a social rent level on the rebuilt estate, with the same tenancy conditions that you have today and a Housing Needs Assessment will ensure you are provided with a home that matches your requirements.
It is important that the community remains together during and after an estate regeneration. To ensure this, the Council tenants who already have secure tenancies on the estate will be entitled to a new home on the rebuilt estate. The homes will be let at social rent levels and residents will enjoy the same benefits that had in their original homes.
A dedicated team will work with residents to ensure that their new homes meet the requirements identified by the Housing Needs Assessment. We will support all residents during their move. Secure tenants will receive a Home Loss compensation payment, which is currently £6,400. All reasonable moving costs will also be paid for.
Where we have accepted a homeless duty* to a household temporarily housed on the estate, the household will be assessed and offered a home that meets their needs in discharge of the Council’s duty. Where possible, we will make an offer of a new home on the rebuilt estate.
*’Homeless duty’ refers to the process of an applicant approaching the Council as a homeless person, and subsequently meeting all the criteria that is required to receive an offer of housing. Where we make the applicant a ‘suitable offer,’ we are discharging that homeless duty.
6. As an existing resident leaseholder or freeholder on the estate, you will be guaranteed an offer of a new home on the rebuilt estate.
Resident leaseholders and freeholders will be entitled to the full market value of their home, plus 10% of that value as a Home Loss compensation payment. We will cover all reasonable costs related to moving and purchasing a new property, including removal costs and legal and surveyors fees.
In addition, every resident leaseholder/freeholder will be offered a new home on the rebuilt estate. An assessment will be made of the leaseholder/freeholder’s individual circumstances to determine the most suitable offer, whether that be remaining in home ownership or being offered a tenancy.
7. We will always strive to create and strengthen thriving communities that are inclusive and sustainable for existing and new residents. As part of this approach we will work to deliver new jobs and opportunities, a choice of shops, leisure and high quality open and green spaces.
Estate regeneration presents a unique opportunity to provide work and training for residents and the wider community. We will work with contractors to promote local businesses, employment opportunities for local residents, and to provide training and apprenticeship opportunities.
As part of the design process, residents will be able to shape the design of their new estate. This will include the provision of shops and leisure opportunities and the design of new open and green spaces.
8. We will work with all private tenants whose homes are affected on a one to one basis to provide support and guidance to secure an alternative home including assessing households for eligibility for an offer of Council accommodation.
Private tenants are those who rent a property on an estate from another landlord, not from the Council. It is often the case that private tenants do not enjoy some of the benefits of Council tenants living on the same estate. Usually, private rents are significantly higher and private tenants have less tenancy rights.
Private tenants will be offered support by officers who will work across the Council’s specialist teams to find housing solutions that best meet their individual circumstances. This will include the assessment of their entitlement to an offer of Council accommodation.
9. We will work with all contractors on estate regeneration projects to minimise the pollution and disruption caused by demolition and construction works.
Our Planning and Environmental Services teams will place restrictions on and monitor builders to minimise the impact of building work on local residents. This will include limiting the times that they can work, agreeing a traffic management strategy and monitoring noise and dust levels.
10. In line with our commitment to tackling the climate emergency and to be a carbon neutral borough by 2030, we will ensure that all new homes are energy efficient and as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Changes in technology have meant that new homes are more energy-efficient and sustainable than the majority of our older homes. We will ensure that the new homes will be more energy efficient and sustainable than the original homes on the estate.
We will also consider how we can future-proof the design of our new homes to make them as sustainable as possible for generations to come. For example, this may include preparing the homes for the installation of electric vehicle charging points and fibre-optic broadband.