KNIGHTS WALK a year after Grenfell

It could have been worse – but it’s not good enough!

The Council’s original three proposals for the architecturally significant 273 homes on the Knights Walk Estate were: a) Demolish  b) Demolish and c) Demolish.  Alternatives suggested by residents in 2015 which would have increased the number of social rented homes,  were misrepresented and then ignored by the Council.  Residents described the ‘consultation principles. There has been no effective consultation around the proposals as to be  ‘so far in breach of the fundamental rights for a fair consultation as to be in breach of Supreme Court.

All the options proposed by Lambeth were rejected outright as totally unacceptable by tenants, supported by their local MP.  In spite of the professed aim to increase public housing, it was revealed that private housing would be included in the redevelopment, and that tenants would not receive ‘like for like’ housing  when rehoused.

However, after a great deal of campaigning,  lobbying and negotiation by tenants and leaseholders assisted by Architects for Council \Housing,  the Council’s plans were hugely scaled down as they backed away from demolishing most of the estate.  In the end the proposals were for the demolition of 18 homes.

While this was a significant victory for many residents,  the ‘offer’ to the 17 displaced tenants is only an assured lifetime tenancy, not a secure council tenancy, with the Right to Manage, the Right to Transfer, and the Right to Buy lacking (thought the latter under pressure might be added as a contractual condition).

So what will the new development look like?  84 new homes will be built (a net gain of 66 taking account of the 18 demolitions).  Only 27 of these (32%)  would be at the equivalent of social rent levels (though at lower security levels.  45 (55%) would be for private renting and the rest for Shred Ownership (figures subject to ‘more detailed analysis’ according to the Council.

Putting this all into context,  had the Council gone along with the residents’ original proposals 50% of the new development would have been social housing,  not 32%.  Ironically,  the residents proposals conformed to Council policies – the Council’s own don’t!