Southwark Council’s bid to remove the last eight lease holders from phase one of the Aylesbury Estate has been rejected by the government on grounds that it would breach their human rights.
The lease holders have said they feel “elated” as the council will now be obliged to renegotiate the valuations for their flats, which had all been below £300,000.
The government’s decision to reject the compulsory purchase order (CPO) of the eight lease holders’ flats will now cause a major delay in the council’s plan to regenerate the Aylesbury.
The council’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, councillor Mark Williams, has issued an immediate response calling the decision “extremely disappointing”.
Four blocks: Bradenham, Chartridge, Arklow and Chiltern, had so far been emptied of 442 tenants households, and 33 lease holders.
The council had this week published an agenda on its website stating its intention to begin demolishing the four blocks in 2018, on the basis that this CPO would “shortly” be approved.
The government’s Department of Communities and Local Government has issued an eight-page letter outlining its decision, as well as an 83-page Inspector’s Report.
The reasons for rejection given by the department’s inspector Lesley Coffey, with secretary of state Sajid Javid, were:
- For the lease holders, the order would have been a disproportionate contravention of their human rights, in respect of their life at home (European Convention of Human Rights Article Eight). This is because the order would have forced the lease holders to move far away to find affordable replacement homes
- That compulsory purchase orders should be used as a “last resort”. The inspector was not convinced that reasonable steps had been taken to reach an agreement with the lease holders to buy their homes
- The order would have “considerable economic, social and environmental dis-benefits” for those eight lease holders
- A number of dwellings in their redevelopment plan would “fail to meet the Council’s adopted standards for sunlight and daylight”
- The order would have particularly affected lease holders who are elderly
- A compelling case in the public interest for confirming the order has not been made.
The report also outlines points upon which the department agrees with the council:
- That an alternative plan to refurbish the estate would not be feasible (a suggestion put forward by lease holders who objected to the CPO)
- The overall redevelopment scheme of the Aylesbury would deliver significant economic benefits in terms of construction jobs
- That the overall scheme would be financially viable
Despite these points, the secretary of state noted in his letter that “in principle” he welcomes the Aylesbury Regeneration scheme, and believes there is “good opportunity” for the council to work with the lease holders to find a new deal.
One of the eight Aylesbury lease holders, Judi Bos, who lets her three-bed Aylesbury property, told the News she was “elated”.
“I couldn’t believe it got rejected. I have spoken to my surveyor who said this is the second time they have ever seen a CPO be rejected,” said Judi from Camberwell.
“I have just spoken to my tenants as well who are really happy.
“I suspect now the council will try to offer us a batter price. I think they should be giving us another £100,000 more.
“I had been given an independent valuation for my flat of £130,000 in 2005. Then when the council tried to value my flat in 2011 they offered me £120,000. Most recently the council offered me £270,000.
“But like the inspector’s report says, this would have contravened our human rights, because we would have to move completely out of London.
“This is what we have been saying to the council all along. This makes all the months and years of work on his feel worth it.”
Cllr Williams said: “This is an extremely disappointing decision by the secretary of state, and the council will be reviewing the detail of the report and the decision before commenting further.
“We are, however, committed to the regeneration proposals and will continue to negotiate with leaseholders on all phases of the regeneration programme, to buy back their properties and allow the work, which is supported by the vast majority of residents on the estate, to move forward as soon as possible.”