Lambeth Council offers recommendation to cabinet for Cressingham Gardens estate redevelopment

After an extended and intensive process of consultation with residents, Lambeth Council officers have recommended that ‘Option 5’ (Full Redevelopment) offers the best alternative for the future of the Cressingham Gardens estate.

The proposal, one of five options put forward during the consultation process, would see all the 306 properties on the estate replaced with a minimum of 464 new homes. All existing council tenants would get a new home, at council rent levels, with a lifetime tenancy – meaning there would be no loss of social housing.

Of the 158 extra homes, 47% would be affordable, including at least 27 extra family-sized homes at council rent.

The recommendation, along with responses received from residents during the consultation period, will now go before Lambeth Council’s Cabinet on 21 March. Cabinet members will make the final decision on the future of the estate.

The Council began the process of consulting residents over the future of the estate in 2012, amid complaints that a number of properties were in poor condition. Five options – ranging from full refurbishment to full redevelopment – were put forward for consideration.

Three refurbishment options were subsequently withdrawn last March, after it was decided that they were unaffordable and, in July, the Council’s Cabinet voted to redevelop the entire estate.

However, the consultation process was restarted last month after a judicial review ruling that the process the Council followed to reach those decisions was incorrect, and it had been wrong to withdraw the three refurbishment options.

Residents were asked for their views on all original alternative proposals at a series of events, including an exhibition on the five options. Their feedback will be included in the report to Cabinet.

All options were assessed against a series of criteria, including their financial viability and the number of new properties they would provide – including affordable and council-rent homes. Cressingham Gardens has been included in Lambeth’s estate regeneration programme, which aims to provide more and better homes to help tackle the borough’s housing crisis.

It was judged that Options 1-4 did not meet the criteria for a number of reasons. For example, they would have to be funded from the Housing Revenue Account, they did not represent value for money, or they did not provide enough additional new homes to help meet Lambeth’s housing need.

Having considered all five options it is only the option of full rebuilding that can both deliver better homes for existing residents but also increases the number of homes, particularly genuinely affordable rented homes, in the depths of a severe housing crisis. Option 5 would replace all homes on Cressingham Gardens with new homes – and provide at least 158 more properties – and it is not constrained by the financial circumstances of the Housing Revenue Account.

A further proposal, named the ‘People’s Plan’, was put forward during the process and will be considered by the Cabinet when it makes its decision. This includes refurbishment and providing new homes in what are at present parking areas under residential units. The Council assessment of the plan, on both feasibility and finances, found that it could not be considered a practical option. Based on the information received to date, the Council is unable to recommend that the Council adopts this plan as:

  • No evidence has been provided confirming that there is the grant funding available to the level required to fund the proposals;
  • It relies on funding from the Housing Revenue Account and does not, therefore, resolve the question of how to fund refurbishment of the estate;
  • As a result this does not make best use of the funding available in the Housing Revenue Account and therefore it doesn’t represent value for money.