Government gives green light to Aylesbury Estate CPO

The government has finally given the go-ahead to a compulsory purchase order (CPO) that would allow long-running plans for the regeneration of a south London estate to take place.

Regeneration plans: the Aylesbury Estate, Southwark
Regeneration plans: the Aylesbury Estate, Southwark

In a decision letter published yesterday, the housing secretary James Brokenshire confirmed the London Borough of Southwark's bid for a CPO to carry out the redevelopment of the Aylesbury Estate.

The council granted planning permission for the estate's regeneration, which it is pursuing with housing association Notting Hill Housing, in April 2015. 

Full and outline permission was granted for a total of more than 3,500 new homes, of which 50 per cent would be affordable, as well as community space shops and employment space.

The full permission included the demolition of eight residential blocks on the estate and their replacement with six new blocks of up to 20 storeys in height providing 830 homes.

In September 2016, ex-communities secretary Sajid Javid refused to authorise the council's request for CPO powers for land and eight mainly residential buildings on the estate to allow the April 2015 full permission to go ahead. 

Javid ruled that the order would breach the human rights of the remaining eight leaseholders on the estate because it was likely to force them to either move away or face financial hardship.

Southwark sought a judicial review of Javid’s decision, and in April last year, the government backed down and said it will not defend the case. 

Brokenshire's decision letter follows the recommendation of planning inspector Martin Whitehead who carried out a public inquiry into the CPO earlier this year.

According to Brokenshire's letter, a number of residents objected to the CPO with the main grounds including the scheme's "failure to accord with the development plan, particularly in relation to density, sunlight, daylight", and the "overall loss of social housing".

Other objections include the "loss of community and the effect on the social wellbeing of the area" and concerns relating to section 149 of the Equality Act 2010's Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). 

The letter says the key equalities issues relate to the impact of the CPO on older people "due to them not being offered a choice of replacement accommodation that would not disproportionately change their lives". Meanwhile, those from black or minority ethnic backgrounds "are also more likely to be disproportionately affected by the proposals alongside older age residents". 

The letter states that the "proposed mitigation measures and agreement to acquire the leasehold interests of all but one property on the order land are in place". 

It adds that the council has a "range" of rehousing options and has "undertaken extensive engagement with residents during the process". 

It states: "On balance, the mitigation measures have demonstrated that the PSED negative impacts have been adequately addressed, where possible, and would amount to reasonable steps to meet protected groups’ needs and mitigate residual disadvantage suffered, advancing equality of opportunity and minimising discriminatory impact." 

According to the letter, the secretary of state "considers the proposed purpose of the order contributes to the achievement of the promotion or improvement of the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area. He also considers the purposes for which the land is being acquired accords with the adopted planning framework for the area." 

The decision letter can be downloaded below.

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