Javid blocks housing estate regeneration CPO on human rights grounds

A major regeneration scheme in south London has suffered a setback after communities secretary Sajid Javid refused to confirm powers to remove the remaining leaseholders from part of the site, ruling that the compulsory purchase order (CPO) would breach their human rights.

Aylesbury Estate: compulsory purchase order blocked (picture: Matt Brown, Flickr)
Aylesbury Estate: compulsory purchase order blocked (picture: Matt Brown, Flickr)

In a decision letter issued last week, Javid refused to authorise the London Borough of Southwark's request for powers to compulsorily purchase an area of the Aylesbury Estate comprising seven residential blocks ranging from four to 14 storeys in height and a total of 566 homes, together with ground floor garages, as well as vacant commercial and office floorspace.

According to inspector Lesley Coffey's report, the land covered by the order is the third parcel of land to be brought forward for redevelopment within the Aylesbury Estate. The report says that eight resident leaseholders remain on the land.

In his decision letter, Javid agreed with the inspector that, "in practice, the options for most leaseholds are either to leave the area, or to invest the majority of their savings in a new property". The letter added that, should the scheme go ahead, "it will probably force many of those concerned to move from this area", breaching their human rights.

The letter said: "The leaseholders are not obliged to accept either of the options to them (shared ownership or shared equity) to stay on the estate, and could potentially purchase a property on the open market.

"However, many of the leaseholders will probably be unable to afford these options and will have to move away from the area."

The letter said: "The secretary of state has carefully considered whether the purposes for which the CPO was made sufficiently justify interfering with the human rights of the lessees under section 12(2A) of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 and he is not satisfied that such interference is justified.

"In particular he has considered the provisions of Article 1 of the First Protocol to, and Article 8 of, the European Convention on Human Rights. In this respect, the Secretary of State does not consider that the order is justified or proportionate between the public interest and interests of the residents."

In the decision letter, Javid also held that a number of homes in the scheme would "fail to meet the council's adopted standards for sunlight and daylight".

It said that these "deficiencies", as well as the extent of overshadowing to the proposed amenity areas, were also in conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework, "which states that sustainable development is indivisible for good planning and should contribute positively to making places better for people".

Javid's letter concluded by saying that the council's "desired outcome could in principle bring with it considerable benefits". It continued: "He considers that potentially there is a good opportunity for the council to work positively with the remaining leaseholders to alleviate the negative aspects he has highlighted above with a view to resubmitting an order in due course to achieve successfully the objectives set out in the planning framework."

Mark Williams, Southwark Council's cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: "This is an extremely disappointing decision by the secretary of state, and the council will be reviewing the detail of the report and the decision before commenting further.

"We are, however, committed to the regeneration proposals and will continue to negotiate with leaseholders on all phases of the regeneration programme, to buy back their properties and allow the work, which is supported by the vast majority of residents on the estate, to move forward as soon as possible."

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