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Political spat over council estate revamp

PUBLISHED: 18:36 20 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:19 07 September 2010

Sanchez Manning THE battlelines have been drawn over the future of three major council estates in Maida Vale and St John s Wood which house thousands of tenants. Westminster Council announced on Tuesday that it will use a £2million government grant to dev

Sanchez Manning

THE battlelines have been drawn over the future of three major council estates in Maida Vale and St John's Wood which house thousands of tenants.

Westminster Council announced on Tuesday that it will use a £2million government grant to develop a series of masterplans to overhaul some of the borough's most rundown council estates.

The three locations earmarked for makeovers are the Brunel and Tollgate estates in Maida Vale, along with the Church Street area sandwiched between Edgware Road and Abbey Road.

But questions have been raised about the council's intentions after housing chief Cllr Philippa Roe said the plans include increasing the number of shared ownership properties.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Regent's Park and Kensington North, said: "I'm very pleased that we're dedicating government money to these improvements.

"However, I will be looking closely at what they propose. There can be a move to create more shared-ownership housing but we want to build homes that local people can afford."

Cllr Roe has hit out at these claims, saying that she completely rejects Ms Buck's argument.

"As part of the regeneration, intermediate or shared ownership housing will be built as well as other housing, not instead of," she said.

"People with low incomes have a right to live in Westminster, but at the moment we have a polarised situation where we only have rich people living in Westminster and very deprived communities."

The proposals are part of a wider housing regeneration project worth hundreds of millions of pounds that could see the transformation of social housing in Westminster. A £2million funding package from the London Development Agency will pay for the plans.

And next month building work will begin on 500 new homes which Westminster has pledged to create during the next four years.

The council said that all decisions made about improvements to the estates will be made in full consultation with residents.

Cllr Roe continued: "What we're planning to do is set up a steering committee for each of the estates on which we'll have residents and local councillors.

"I think it's a real opportunity for people to talk about their estates in a broad way. We're looking at what we can do to improve people's lives in these areas."

Gary Toomey, chairman of the Brunel Estate residents' association, said he was pleased to hear the council is planning to spend millions to improve homes, but agreed with Ms Buck that shared ownership was not right for his neighbourhood.

"I don't think there should be shared ownership, there should be council housing for all," he said.


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