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8,000 social homes lost in a decade

Estate regeneration schemes are leading to more homes being built – but there is an overall decline in those available for social rent.

The report ‘Knock It Down or Do It Up?’, from the London Assembly’s Housing Committee, looks at how to improve the process of regenerating housing estates – including the decision of councils or housing associations to either renovate or demolish the estate.The report is designed to provide a guide for community groups, councillors and housing professionals to some of the best ways to work together to regenerate estates. The tips include:

•Putting energy into early and comprehensive engagement with residents, as well as the physical build and finances
•Holding an independent ballot on any final decision to demolish an estate
•Creating a steering group of residents and securing the enthusiasm of community leaders and influencers.

The report also makes recommendations to central government and the Mayor, including:

•Reviewing the level of the Mayor’s affordable housing grant
•HM Treasury allowing councils to borrow against existing homes to reinvest in building new homes
•Central government reducing the VAT disparity between refurbishment (20% VAT) and new build (0% rated).

Darren Johnson AM, Chair of the Housing Committee, said:

“Market homes play an important role in unlocking investment to plough into creating decent social homes, but the extent of the housing crisis means we need homes for all income groups, not just the well-heeled.

What’s also clear is that the most popular regeneration schemes are those where councils and housing associations genuinely engage existing residents in decisions, rather than taking important decisions about people’s family homes from behind closed doors.

We also heard of some examples where providers have gone the extra mile to work with their communities on regeneration schemes, and I hope councils, housing associations and residents will be able to use the report to build a two-way dialogue.”

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