A former councillor has weighed in to the ‘fight for the Aylesbury’ with a “radical” proposal to retain one of the estate’s blocks for existing leaseholders.
A masterplan to demolish all the existing buildings on the Walworth estate and replace them with 3,500 new homes, 50 percent of which would be ‘affordable’, was submitted to Southwark Council in October, by development partners, the Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT).
Toby Eckersley (pictured), a Conservative councillor for Village ward until last May, has now lodged a formal objection, calling for one of the blocks to be retained.
He wants the Gayhurst block facing Burgess Park to be left standing so the remaining leaseholders, who say they are being forced out of the area, could be offered the chance to live there instead.
“It would solve the leaseholder injustice,” said Toby, though he admits it would be a “radical change” from the Aylesbury Area Action Plan (AAAP), which acts as a planning blueprint for the site.
In addition to ensuring a council commitment to doing up the Gayhurst blocks will be money well spent, Toby said the plan to make them a leaseholder safe-haven would also alleviate “the justified sense of grievance that the compulsory purchase code, and related council policies, are driving leaseholders from the borough, and depriving them of the benefits of the regeneration.”
A spokesperson for Notting Hill Housing Trust said it had developed an “overall vision” for the site in consultation with residents and in line with the AAAP. “Rather than focussing all the private and leasehold homes in the area facing Burgess Park, Notting Hill Housing and Southwark Council are committed to providing a mixed tenure development, with private, target rent and shared ownership/shared equity properties across the masterplan, both with views of the park and the City.”
Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “As we have said repeatedly, the current blocks are not fit for purpose, are too expensive and difficult to refurbish, with a fundamentally flawed heating system. To keep even one of them to the standards we expect from our council homes is not an option and undermines the overall advantages of the regeneration programme.
“We are working with NHHT so Aylesbury residents can stay in the local area. We are also doing all we can to help leaseholders stay in the area, particularly through shared equity, so that they can also benefit from the regeneration of the estate,” he added.