Council estates ‘cut off’ from London

Council estates ‘cut off’ from London

Demolishing and rebuilding London’s council estates could create 360,000 extra homes and quadruple property values, according to research that has fed into David Cameron’s plans for renewing social housing.

Work by property advisers Savills, to be published on Monday, found that many of the capital’s estates are cut off from the rest of London and neighbouring communities. The research was commissioned by the Cabinet Office, the policymaking arm of government.

Mr Cameron will on Monday set out his plans for far-reaching reforms — including demolishing council estates across Britain — that aim to improve social mobility.

The plan will receive £140m of government funding and target 100 estates, the prime minister said.

“For decades sink estates — and frankly sometimes the people who lived in them — had been seen as something simply to be managed,” Mr Cameron said.

Former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine — who championed urban regeneration in places such as Liverpool and London’s docklands in the 1980s — will chair an advisory panel that will draw up detailed proposals.

The country needs about 250-300,000 new homes a year, it is widely agreed, yet has been building fewer than 200,000 a year in recent years.

The idea of knocking down high-rise estates and replacing them with mid-rise apartments and terraced housing was floated by crossbench peer Lord Adonis last spring. The demolitions would bring an opportunity to create “mixed communities” that would function as “city villages”, he said in a paper for the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis backed the idea, saying in his first official speech after the general election that politicians “cannot overlook the need to regenerate inner city areas” which are “dominated by high rise concrete blocks from the 1960s and 70s”.

Yolande Barnes, Savills’ research director and the author of the report, said it “challenges the housing industry to think differently about development, estate renewal and estate regeneration in order to improve life chances for many of London’s residents,” she said.

Mr Cameron’s council estate redevelopment plans are the first step in what he recently said would be a year-long effort to deliver “real social renewal”.

In a New Year message the prime minister said Britain was in the middle of “one of the great reforming decades in our history” and promised to tackle social problems that “have been generations in the making”.

In particular, he will focus on boosting housebuilding and home ownership, tackling worklessness and family instability, improving care for vulnerable children, mental health and addiction, doing more to close the gender pay gap, and addressing the causes of extremism.

 

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