CENTRAL HILL a year after Grenfell

In March 2017 Lambeth Council Cabinet voted to demolish the Central Hill estate near
Crystal Palace. The decision was taken despite 79% of residents opposing the demolition.
If you visit the estate you understand why. Designed by Rosemary Stjernstedt it is a
wonderful example of low rise, high density, council housing, pedestrianised, with
integrated green spaces and beautiful trees and views for the residents. An estate that
continues to collect over a million pounds in revenue having been paid for years ago. An
estate that was allowed to decline for years as the council prepared it for demolition. So a
year after Grenfell what has happened to the plan to knock it down and replace it with high
rises?
Well the demolition is still going ahead. There is still no plan to ballot residents .The
council argues that a resident survey that they commissioned from a private company was
enough – a survey where residents weren’t even allowed to see the answers written down
on their behalf! The high rises are getting higher but the residents are not allowed to see
the plans and the extra housing in the new development will not be social housing as
promised – it will all be private. The promise to residents that their homes and gardens
would be replaced with homes and gardens has turned out to be a lie as they will be
replaced with high rise flats. What about the promise that council tenants will keep the
same tenancies? This too appears to be untrue. The council now talk of ‘council-like
tenancies’ with higher rents and less secure tenure. The promise to leaseholders that the
council would buy them out as soon as the decision was taken has turned out to be false
as well with people stuck in their homes unable to move.
So no lessons learnt regarding listening to residents and treating them with respect. What
about learning lessons from Grenfell regarding safety? When asked  2 days after Grenfell
what extra precaution they would build in, the architects said only that they would ‘comply
with exiting legislation’.