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Feelings running high as Heygate Estate public inquiry closes

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Feelings running high as Heygate Estate public inquiry closes


Published by Anonymous for in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government

Feelings running high as Heygate Estate public inquiry closes Feelings running high as Heygate Estate public inquiry closes

Planning Inspector Wenda Fabian has closed her public inquiry into Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) issued against three remaining leaseholders on the Heygate Estate in south London, writes Paul Coleman.

Fabian is due to complete her report with recommendations in the next few weeks. The Secretary of State will ultimately decide on confirming the CPOs.

CPO and developer law specialist Mary Cook, representing Southwark, told Fabian: “It’s understandable feelings run high when people’s homes are being acquired but there is a compelling public interest case for the CPOs to be confirmed”.

During the four-day inquiry, Fabian heard witnesses from Southwark Council and developer Lend Lease contend that the Heygate Estate - completed in 1974 and once home to 1,000 Council tenants – must be emptied.

Only then can a Southwark and Lend Lease 12-year phased regeneration scheme demolish the Heygate and deliver up to 2,469 new homes, 1,255 new jobs, shops and “publicly accessible” parkland.

An outline plan for Southwark-Lend Lease’s demolition and redevelopment regeneration scheme for the 22-acre Heygate Estate secured planning approval last month. A detailed application for the first redevelopment phase also received planning permission this week.

Fabian visited the Heygate during her Inquiry accompanied by Southwark Council officers, and by Adrian Glasspool and Moji Ojeikere, two of the three leaseholders objecting to the CPOs. Fabian visited Ojeikere’s fifth floor – and now unheated – flat.

Rob Heasman, Lend Lease land and planning director, told the inquiry that the developer would “guarantee” that 25% of the scheme’s new homes would be affordable. “That is a one hundred per cent guarantee,” emphasised Heasman.

Objecting Heygate leaseholder Adrian Glasspool – and now the estate’s last resident – questioned if 25% was a viable proposition for Lend Lease. "We'll make it viable," replied Heasman.

Heasman told the inquiry the CPOs were vital for the new mixed-tenure development to proceed. "We will not sit on our hands,” said Heasman. “Lend Lease wants new homes to come out of the ground."

Southwark and Lend Lease said affordable homes would be split equally between shared ownership and rented. Of the rented homes, 71 would be offered as social housing at Southwark’s target rent, equivalent to over 35% of the local district’s average market rent.

But over 190 would be Affordable Rent offered at up to 50% of local market rents. Objectors claimed the 50% setting would levy £195 weekly rents, unaffordable for many low earner residents in Elephant and Castle, including former Heygate council tenants looking to rent on the new development.

Former Heygate resident Jerry Flynn told the inquiry the Heygate scheme would enable Affordable Rent homes to eventually replace social rent or council homes throughout the Elephant and Castle. Southwark has more social rented homes than any other London borough.

Glasspool said the CPOs were not justified in the public interest as the Southwark-Lend Lease scheme will “create the largest privatised space in central London”.

Mother-of-three Ojeikere, a civil servant, said Southwark had forced some 3,000 council and leaseholder residents out of their Heygate homes so the developer could build luxury central London dwellings. “The level of compensation offered was not enough for me to find another home close to central London where I work,” said Ojeikere.

Cook, for Southwark, sought to show that Southwark had made reasonable offers of financial compensation and advised leaseholders of new affordable shared ownership homes in the Elephant and Castle locality.

Southwark Council revealed it has agreed to sell the 22-acre Heygate Estate site to Lend Lease for £50m. The council failed to properly redact its Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease before publishing on its website for the public inquiry.

Picture caption: Heygate Leaseholder Moji Ojeikere (left) with Wenda Fabian, CPO Public Inquiry inspector, on estate visit.


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