Southwark Council will mount a legal challenge against the government's plans to reject a Compulsory Purchase Order for eight properties in the first development site at the Aylesbury estate.
But the authority has first called on Sajid Javid MP, the secretary of state for communities and local government, to reconsider his decision – which could spell the end of redevelopment plans for 800 new homes – on the basis of an alleged error in the report.
This focuses on claims that Javid’s findings are based on a former leaseholder policy, which the council claims to have updated in December 2015. It is believed that this was not accounted for in the secretary of state's decision.
Javid believes that the council has not done enough to acquire the land by agreement and that the order would breach the human rights of the leaseholders as they would not be able to afford to stay on the estate or live nearby – and be forced to move out of the area or to use their savings to buy a new property.
Councillor Peter John, council leader, said each of the residents had been offered “a brand new home in the same area, rent-free, and with a shared equity arrangement which protects the money they’ve saved and invested”.
He added that Javid’s decision put Southwark and all councils which were trying to build new homes for their residents “between a rock and hard place”.
“We can either fight this decision or scrap our plans to regenerate the Aylesbury estate, leaving the hopes and dreams of thousands of local people in tatters. I’m not willing to do that, which is why we will take court action if necessary to try to overturn this bizarre decision.”
A partnership between the council and Notting Hill Housing, the £1.5 billion regeneration of the largest social housing estate in Europe would replace the 2,700 homes currently on site with 3,500 new properties, half of which would be allocated as affordable, across four phases. Work on the first phase was expected to start this year and completion of the project was scheduled for 2032.
"In his report the secretary of state recognises that the scheme is viable, that it brings economic and social benefits to the area and that refurbishment is not an option,” John continued.
“Our plans offer the only way forward for the positive regeneration of an area of London that desperately needs it, and I’m determined that we will keep going to provide high-quality, affordable homes for local people.
“I hope he will listen to reason but failing that, we will take this to court. We will also continue with our regeneration of other parts of the estate that are not affected by this decision," he concluded.
It has become Southwark council leader Peter John's mantra: "This is the best borough, in the best city, in the best country in the…