Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, has recently decided to block the London Borough of Southwark's compulsory purchase order for the redevelopment of Aylesbury Estate. Is that bad news or good news?
Council-led estate regeneration has been trending for the past couple of years, with local authorities wanting to redevelop their assets rather than selling to the private sector. Public sector-led housing redevelopment is good news, but it comes with a number of challenges.
The secretary of state's decision is good news in the sense that it shows more scrutiny in estate regeneration and the rights of estate dwellers more specifically, which is a relief for part of the community and some observers.
However, Southwark is appealing the decision, claiming it puts all councils involved in estate regeneration in a difficult place. If the Secretary of State's decision becomes a precedent, it will leave councils with even less room to manoeuver in managing their housing assets. The redevelopment of Aylesbury estate hasn't been without controversy, but it is also often quoted as a good practice example for community engagement, design and place-making.
Interests in estate regeneration are sometimes irreconcilable, and it will be interesting how this issue between government and the London Borough of Southwark will resolve. The only certain thing is that the government's support to Council-led estate regeneration remains unclear.
Sajid Javid blocked the CPO for eight remaining properties, finding it would breach leaseholders’ human rights, prompting the council to warn that the move will derail the regeneration scheme. Southwark claimed Javid’s decision was based on a previous leaseholder policy, which it updated last December and shared with the government. This was not reflected in the decision, it argued, and the borough will seek a judicial review. “This decision puts Southwark and all councils who are trying to build new homes for our residents between a rock and hard place,” said council leader Peter John.