Its like Brexit. Why should elected representatives who represented every local resident- including the currently unhoused – be trumped. Im with Javids guidance here it strikes precisely the right balance on preventing gentrification whilst insuring densification and preventing metrication for its own sake. It would seem that Corbyn would rather let major estates in London rot rather than bring in new investment and 10s of thousands of new houses, many of which would enormously reduce local councils current bills for temporary accommodation. Old style loony left posturing rather than real ‘actually existing labour’ governance. Having said that there are cases in London, like Cressingham, where the residents campaigns are right and refurbishment should be backed. Indeed I think the Cressingham estate should be a conservation area.
A Labour-run council has said it is opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to force local authorities to ballot residents before carrying out housing redevelopments because a yes/no vote would risk oversimplifying a complex issue.
Haringey council in north London, which is carrying out a major regeneration project in association with the developer Lendlease, said it would resist the idea of a compulsory ballot.
The Haringey Labour councillor Alan Strickland, who holds the housing and regeneration brief, said: “We will continue to put comprehensive and meaningful engagement with residents at the heart of our regeneration plans, but we do not expect to start using yes/no ballots.”
The borough cited guidance from the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, which warns ballots “can risk turning a complex set of issues that affects different people in different ways over many years into a simple yes/no decision at a single point in time”.
The ballot idea was among a cluster of housing policies outlined by Corbyn during his speech to the Labour party conference in Brighton on Wednesday. The leader said he believed too many council regeneration schemes amounted to “forced gentrification and social cleansing”, with social tenants pushed out by private developers.
Corbyn said that under a Labour government, those who lived on an estate earmarked for redevelopment would have to be guaranteed a replacement home at the same site and on the same terms, and no work could take place unless approved by a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders.
The plans were viewed by many as a thinly veiled attack on some Labour-run councils, especially in London, where boroughs such as Haringey, Southwark and Lambeth have carried out huge and often controversial rebuilding schemes.
Facing a squeeze in funding and increased pressure for housing, councils and others have sought to replace 1960s council estates with privately built developments, some including little social or affordable housing.
Other councils were more circumspect but defended their regeneration plans. Mark Williams, in charge of housing in Southwark, said opponents of schemes such as the ongoing rebuilding of the 1960s Aylesbury estate had wrongly claimed many tenants were being forced out of the area, when 95% of those who had moved still lived in the borough.
Corbyn’s plans do, however, tap into longstanding public opposition to some of the schemes. In Lambeth, residents of a 1960s low-rise estate, Cressingham Gardens, have fought a long battle against the council’s plans to demolish what they say is a vibrant community.
Jo Parkes, one of the campaigners, said that after Lambeth declined to ballot residents on its plans, her group did, and found 86% of households opposed them, with a 72% response rate.
Parkes said she believed campaigns such as the Cressingham one had helped push Corbyn into action. “Absolutely,” she said. “We’ve been talking about it for some time, and it had been a bit disappointing that Corbyn was silent on this before now.
One senior Labour figure in a council, speaking anonymously, said that if Corbyn wanted to crack down on public-private housing schemes he would need to find a replacement source of funding.
He said: “One thing missing from the speech is that there wasn’t an acceptance that while the aims are perfectly laudable, a Labour government would have to put serious amounts of cash behind it. I think it would, but that has to be recognised.”
A source in the national Labour party said Corbyn had a plan to fund the proposals. “There would be new funding,” the source said. “Jeremy recognises councils have had to be creative over these plans, and his speech wasn’t intended as a direct criticism of them.”