Residents drive support for housing regeneration

Putting residents at the heart of regeneration has resulted in overwhelming support for proposals to revamp the Brookhill Close estate in Greenwich, demonstrating the critical importance of early and continual engagement with communities.

Brookhill Close - at the centre of a housing regeneration project

Residents were balloted in February to ask whether or not they wanted plans to go ahead. Of the 99 eligible voters, 87% voted, with 86% in favour of regeneration.

Hyde is planning to demolish 80 homes, replacing them with 272 new flats and houses, as well as improving the layout of the estate. There will be 76 social rented homes for existing residents and London Affordable Rent homes for new tenants. There will also be 64 homes for shared ownership and a further 132 for private sale, which will help fund regeneration.

Hyde was committed to involving residents from the very start, explains Hyde’s Managing Director, Development, Tom Shaw. “It was critical to give residents time to understand the proposals; to listen to concerns and to build trust.”

A resident steering group is working with Hyde to develop the masterplan. Steering committee member Yemi Odetola says the group examined a range of issues, from estate layout, lighting, floorplans and landscaping, to the approach to play and parking.

“We were consulted and listened to,” he confirms. “We also visited other estates that had already been regenerated, to see what was possible.”

Tenants have been given the option of a new home at Brookhill Close that meets their needs or a permanent move away. About 50 households have opted to stay, with the rest preferring to move to another area.

Rents will remain the same, depending on the home, Shaw adds. “Residents will receive home loss payments, disturbance costs and removal expenses. We will also help those moving away find a new home and their tenancy rights will stay the same.”

Hyde decided to ballot residents, in line with Mayor of London’s good practice guide to estate regeneration ‘Better homes for local people’ published in February 2018. This includes guidance on resident ballots where Greater London Authority funding supports regeneration plans and/or where schemes involve demolishing homes.

Brookhill Close - the plans for housing regeneration project

James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, explains: “Londoners who live on estates must have a real say in any plans for where they live, which is why ballots are at the heart of the approach to regeneration; we are pleased to see the policy being put into practice at Brookhill Close.”

The ballot process was managed by independent firm Electoral Reform Services. Residents were given 21 days to vote.

Housing plans gained support from residents despite meaning a move

“The positive result is extremely pleasing, particularly as plans involve some residents having to move out for four years,” Shaw says. “We now have a mandate to continue with our plans. It shows you can get a good turnout and a positive outcome when you have an exceptional scheme and truly engage with residents.”

Odetola adds: “When consultation started, people were worried about what might happen. While it was clear Hyde wanted to create a better living environment, many were concerned promises would not be kept. The ballot shows most people want regeneration to happen and that trust has been built-up.”

Hyde also worked closely with the Royal Borough of Greenwich throughout the process. “Greenwich’s support is crucial if we are going to be successful in building a new community,” Shaw says.

Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, agrees: “I hope this can be seen as a blueprint for future ballots. The fact that residents on Brookhill Close voted overwhelmingly for new homes demonstrates that, when residents are kept fully-informed from the start of a regeneration process, and can influence proposals, they are willing to support redevelopment.”

However consultation with residents will not stop with the ballot, Shaw says.

“We will work with the steering group to produce the planning application and then to develop detailed designs. We will continue to involve residents every step of the way.”

See the Hyde website for more details.