Residents at Calverley Close in Beckenham unhappy with the proposed redevelopment of their estate
Tenants of Riverside Housing Association at Calverley Close off Southend Close in Beckenham are unhappy about the proposed demolition of their estate and the way their landlord is consulting with them.
There are approximately 200 properties on this estate. Some tenants have lived on this estate since before 1980 and have secure tenancies. The tenants are unhappy as the proposed redevelopment will involve the demolition of the estate. The march newsletter from Riverside refers to the new development containing 179 private properties for sale and 179 “affordable properties “. The Association has been promised funding from the Greater London Authority.
The Census figure for 2011 reveals that Bromley Council has 18,425 households renting from a social landlord in the borough. The Director of Housing reported to a Bromley Council committee meeting in March 2021 that the council has approximately 1,700 households in temporary accommodation. The Council was quoted by the magazine Inside Housing that it needs to expand the pipeline of affordable housing in the borough by 1,000 homes to bring down temporary accommodation costs – or see its £16.9m yearly budget gap grow to £26.5m by 2024/25.
Any loss of housing association accommodation in the borough will merely increase the numbers of households in temporary accommodation. Housing Associations are far too commercially minded due to Government influence. It is not acceptable that they should be such a large loss of less expensive accommodation in the borough.
The residents are unhappy about the consultation by their landlord:
- They do not have access to independent legal advice.
- The proposals are constantly changing.
- Residents report that they have been told that only tenants can vote in the ballot.
- The residents steering group was closed by the landlord. There is no consultation with tenants as a whole.
- The landlord has not been letting properties on the estate for several years. Riverside could have let some of these properties to homeless families.
- The landlord does not answer their questions.
- There is a lack of clarity and worry as to what will happen to the existing residents.
- Many of the residents on the estate are vulnerable and need extra help to understand what is proposed.
- Some of the residents have lived on the estate since before the 1988 Housing Act. The landlord claims to offer them the right to return once the estate has been redeveloped. However, can new secure tenancies be created by a Housing Association landlord once the secure tenant moves off the estate?
Riverside Housing must demonstrate to the Greater London Authority that there has been a positive ballot by tenants on the estate to obtain this funding. The authority guidance states:
What is the Landlord Offer and what information does it need to include?
The Landlord Offer is the document outlining the details of the proposed estate regeneration project and associated ballot, including the question to be put to residents in the ballot and the timing of the ballot. It must provide sufficient information for residents to make an informed decision about the future of their estate. As a minimum, the Landlord Offer must include details of:
- the broad vision, priorities, and objectives of the project, including the estimated number of new homes and the mix of tenures.
- the full right to return or remain for social tenants.
- the offer for leaseholders and freeholders; and
- commitments to ongoing consultation and engagement.
The ballot has to be conducted by an independent body. There are strict rules about who is eligible to vote.
8.4. Voter eligibility requirements
8.4.1. The GLA requires IPs to take reasonable steps to identify those residents eligible to vote, to inform them about the resident ballot and to encourage them to participate in it.
8.4.2. To ensure resident ballots are consistent across London, IPs do not have discretion to set the voter eligibility criteria for ballots. Ballots must be open to all residents on an existing social housing estate – not just those currently occupying homes that are due to be demolished – that fall into one or more of the following three eligibility criteria:
- Social tenants (including those with secure, assured, flexible or introductory tenancies named as a tenant on a tenancy agreement dated on or before the date the Landlord Offer is published – see from paragraph 8.5.11 for further information about the Landlord Offer).
- Resident leaseholders or freeholders who have been living in their properties as their only or principal home for at least one year prior to the date the Landlord Offer is published and are named on the lease or freehold title for their property.
- Any resident whose principal home is on the estate and who has been on the local authority’s housing register for at least one year prior to the date the Landlord Offer is published, irrespective of their current tenure.
8.4.3. In the above criteria, “social tenants” includes residents of affordable housing (whether low-cost rental accommodation or low-cost home ownership accommodation) whose direct landlord is an IP.1 For the avoidance of doubt, residents living in shared ownership properties are considered “social tenants”, but residents who are living in temporary accommodation are not. Residents that are living in temporary accommodation can only vote if they have been on the local authority housing register for at least one year prior to the date the Landlord Offer is published.
8.4.4. For the avoidance of doubt, the following residents are only eligible to vote in a ballot if they have been on the local authority’s housing register for at least one year prior to the date the Landlord Offer is published:
- Tenants whose landlord is not a Registered Provider or a local authority.
- Homeless households living in temporary accommodation provided pursuant to Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, including those with non-secure or assured shorthold tenancies where their landlord is a housing association or a local authority.
1 For the avoidance of doubt, affordable housing includes intermediate housing.
The ballot guidance further states:
8.4.7. Eligible residents are entitled to one vote per person. Individuals meeting more than one of the eligibility criteria must receive only one vote.
8.4.8. There is no limit to the number of eligible voters per household.
8.4.9. Only residents aged 16 or above are eligible to vote (provided they also meet the eligibility criteria defined in paragraph 8.4.2).
If the ballot is not conducted in accordance with these rules, the residents would appear to have grounds to make a complaint to the funding authority.
The Government has promised to give extra rights to social housing tenants in a recent white paper ( https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-charter-for-social-housing-residents-social-housing-white-paper) Unfortunately there is no sign of the Government enacting these proposals into law.
For more details see : www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/improving-quality/estate-regeneration
The tenants on the estate have now drafting a petition to enlist the support of local politicians. They are working with other Riverside Housing Tenants in Pike Close in Bromley. They deserve the support of all progressive opinion in the borough.