Social housing residents in Barnet, north London, have voted in favour of the redevelopment of their estate – in the first ballot of its kind under new rules introduced by the Mayor of London earlier this year.
The ballot was carried out at the Westhorpe Gardens and Mills Grove estate – with nearly 75% of residents voting in favour of proposals drawn up by housing association Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTVH). Nearly 66% of 108 eligible residents took part in the vote which they cast by post, text or telephone, or online.
Electoral Reform Services, which administered the ballot on behalf of MTVH, has confirmed that it is the first of its type carried out in the capital. It took place between October 15 and November 5, following a series of local community consultation events which were attended by more than 60% of residents.
MTVH’s proposals for the future of the estate were outlined at exhibitions and drop-in sessions combined with door-to-door canvassing to ensure all residents had an opportunity to give their opinions and ideas. Residents’ feedback was then collected to inform and shape the design for the redevelopment of the estate.
Westhorpe Gardens and Mills Grove Estate currently has 102 social rent homes (comprising 15 houses and 87 flats) which were built in the 1970s. Following property surveys, estate landlord and developer MTVH established it would have needed significant investment to bring the properties up to contemporary building standards.
MTVH’s redevelopment proposals are to create a mixed tenure community of c. 250 homes – of which the 102 existing social rented homes would be replaced with brand new ones. In addition, there would be around 150 new homes delivered for affordable rent, shared ownership and over-55s retirement living. The proposals are for 80% of the additional homes to be affordable, with a number of retirement living properties for market sale.
In July this year, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan introduced a new policy requiring resident ballots to be carried out for proposed major estate regeneration schemes involving any demolition of social homes before they can receive City Hall funding.
Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley, said: “We are delighted that the majority of residents voted ‘yes’ and put their trust in us to place them at the heart of our proposals for the renewal of their estate. We have secured not only their consent, but their input too following extensive consultation. This positive ballot result is really good news for everyone involved – it presents an opportunity not only to deliver new, better quality homes for our existing residents, but also to provide additional housing that is so desperately needed within the borough.”
Councillor Dan Thomas, Barnet Council’s Assets, Regeneration and Growth Committee Chair, said: “Local residents have given a resounding seal of approval for the regeneration of Westhorpe Gardens and Mills Grove Estate. We always listen to the views of our residents. We therefore look forward to working with our partners in helping to redevelop this estate and improving homes for our residents.”
“This will complement the redevelopments we have already delivered across the borough, including West Hendon and the Stonegrove and Spur Road Estate.”
James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, said: “The Mayor wants Londoners who live on estates to have a real say when regeneration is planned for where they live, which is why he has put ballots at the heart of his approach to estate regeneration. We are very pleased to see Metropolitan Thames Valley becoming the first housing association to hold a ballot for their residents at Westhorpe Gardens and Mills Grove Estate under the Mayor’s new rules, and with a majority in favour we look forward to working with Metropolitan Thames Valley to build better homes for local people on the estate and more of the social housing that Londoners so desperately need.”
In the coming months, MTVH will submit a detailed regeneration application to Barnet Council.