Lend Lease’s plans for the regeneration of the Heygate Estate were unveiled this week on Walworth Road to much public interest.
The housing will consist of 2,500 new units providing accommodation for up to 4,000 people. The units will be split between high and low-rise buildings built around a central park. There will be a 25% affordable housing allocation as per Southwark Council’s guidelines. This equates to 625 ‘affordable’ units, half shared ownership, half housing association. The existing Heygate estate consists of 1,200, now almost completely derelict, units housing around 3,500 people in 100% affordable housing.
100 metres away in the communal gardens of the now empty Heygate estate the few remaining residents have organised something of a rebuttal. A permanent exhibition has been laid out to address concerns that many local residents have over the planned redevelopment.
Interestingly, there is very little emotional content in the display. The statistics speak for themselves — the most striking of which is the examination into the term ‘affordable’. Once this was classed by surveys into the incomes of tenants in council housing, but now it means a home with a fixed rent at 80% of the market value. In real terms the difference between affordability for existing Southwark council tenants and ‘affordable’ housing proposed by Lend Lease is a 300% increase in rent. The earlier figure of 625 units must not therefore be taken too seriously. Southwark Council promises that in the wider regeneration of the area there will be more ‘affordable’ housing than was available in the Heygate. The reality of the situation is a huge decrease in genuinely affordable housing in the wider Elephant and Castle area.