Search

View from the Chamber: Sian Berry calls for ballots on Camden estates

PUBLISHED: 18:21 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:26 12 October 2017

Sian Berry AM and Highgate ward Green Party councillor says Camden Council should not be afraid to give its residents a vote on housing redevelopments. Picture: GREEN PARTY

Sian Berry AM and Highgate ward Green Party councillor says Camden Council should not be afraid to give its residents a vote on housing redevelopments. Picture: GREEN PARTY

Archant

More than three months on from the sudden evacuation of the Chalcots towers, we are still waiting for the council to release all the information residents need to help inform the promised ‘independent review’ of what went wrong.

Ms Berry has said residents on estates such as the Chalcots deserve openness and respect from Camden Council. Picture: ANNA BEHRMANNMs Berry has said residents on estates such as the Chalcots deserve openness and respect from Camden Council. Picture: ANNA BEHRMANN

In fact, despite promises made in July, we’re no closer even to seeing a list of documents that will be released to show us how we got there.

This is not good enough. My own Freedom of Information requests have been refused, and many residents, councillors and reporters seeking the truth are similarly frustrated at the glacial pace of this process.

Openness and respect for residents are what residents on estates across Camden need, so I was very pleased to hear Jeremy Corbyn in his speech to Labour conference recently speak up for council residents facing demolition and promise every estate a binding ballot before plans go ahead.

Corbyn’s pledge followed a motion passed by conference put forward by the Tottenham branch of the party - a clear reaction to Haringey council’s controversial decision to put all its council homes into a deal with private developer Lendlease.

Shadow ministers have since said that the new ballot policy will only happen if Labour gain power in Westminster. But in the many places where the party already has power, there’s no reason to wait before giving residents a real say in the future of their homes.

This includes London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is about to publish guidance for councils on estate policy, and of course Camden Council, which is embarking on its next wave of proposals.

The council recently held ‘exhibitions’ outlining new plans for two estates in the Gospel Oak area.

The first of these is West Kentish Town, where the buildings hugely need work, and the low-rise blocks have potential either for new homes as ‘infill’ to help pay for renovation or for a phased scheme of demolition, where replacements are built first and every resident only moved once without leaving the area.

The real balance of local views on these options is ideal to be tested with a ballot.

The second estate, Wendling, is more solidly built and dense already. Here the case is very strong for refurbishment but residents are suspicious that the council seems to have ruled this out already and is only seeking demolition.

Any attempt here to impose redevelopment ‘from above’ by the council would almost certainly not pass a ballot test.

Camden may think it knows best, but it is important to give residents a final say on whether the council really has the best ideas to get homes repaired and provide new council houses.

If it involves residents, keeps their options open and makes its case in an open and honest way then it really has nothing to fear from a ballot.

However, officers in Gospel Oak told residents there are no plans for ballots on the final options for their estates.

Openness and respect for residents were at the heart of Corbyn’s new demands, and Camden council needs to listen and do better very soon.

*Sian Berry, AM, is Green Party London Assembly Member and a Camden councillor representing Highgate ward.

Related articles

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 15:35

Wage cuts for nurses covering sick leave and other increases in demand at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital have been postponed after workers threatened to cancel shifts en masse.

Yesterday, 15:00

Brexit uncertainty is one reason for a slowdown in Camden house prices, said a leading estate agent after new data showed that property values in the borough fell 0.8 per cent in August and 2.1pc in the last 12 months.

Yesterday, 14:05

Tickets for a public meeting into the future of the Phoenix Cinema have sold out within days of it being announced.

Yesterday, 13:57

Mitzvah Day volunteers from Hampstead were among those taking part in Sewa Day – a Hindu day of community action – in Kingsbury, Brent this weekend.

Yesterday, 10:29

As part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Haringey Police have been engaging with the community to raise awareness of the importance of reporting abuse and discrimination.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sardonic, sarcastic and funny are three of the words that have been used to describe the late-SOAS lecturer and King’s Cross local Prof Lawrence Saez, who died at the beginning of September.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now