Housing estate regeneration is set to lead to London losing over 7,000 social homes, according to figures obtained by the London Assembly Green Party.
If the schemes identified by the Greens go ahead as planned, there will be a net loss to the capital of 7,326 social rent homes. These are the homes with the lowest rent levels and are fast disappearing in favour of "affordable rent" homes, where tenants can be charged anything up to 80% of what the private market demands. Yet even these "affordable rent" homes are also in danger: the Greens calculate a net loss of 1,389 across London.
Estate regeneration is often code for knocking down existing homes — some of which are, admittedly, beyond repair — and replacing them with new builds. Councils don't have the money to build these homes themselves, so tend to bring in private developers who construct a mixture of homes for the open market and some "affordable" homes. To allow developers to achieve the density they need to guarantee a healthy profit, some councils are letting perfectly good social homes be destroyed and the space once occupied built over with newer, shinier, more expensive flats.
Some particularly egregious examples are:
- the Wood Dene estate in Southwark, where there's a net loss of 262 social rent homes, joined by 63 intermediate homes (shared ownership) and 209 for the open market.
- Kidbrook Village in Greenwich, formerly known as the Ferrier Estate, which loses 1,459 social rent homes and gains 211 intermediate homes and 1,755 homes for the open market. There will be some social housing, but nothing like the scale it was before.
- New Hendon Village in Barnet, formerly the Grahame Park Estate (the largest housing estate in the borough), will see a net loss of 498 social rent homes and gain 1,399 homes for the open market.
In short, when politicians boast about how many new homes are being built on their patch, do remember to ask whether that's enough to replace the ones that were knocked down to make space.