Estate Watch

Demolition or neglect: Are the Mayor of London’s ballots offering tenants a fair choice?

WEDNESDAY 17th JUNE

Over 35,000 homes across more than 100 London estates are earmarked for or undergoing demolition according to Estate Watch, a new resource for affected communities.

This despite the Mayor of London’s Estate Regeneration Guidance (2018), which was supposed to give council tenants and leaseholders a better deal.

Launching today, the Estate Watch website has been produced by community organisations Just Space and London Tenants Federation (LTF) to provide tenants and residents with independent facts and resources about the realities of demolition and possible alternatives.

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Boroughs & Covid-19: update

The London Forum of Amenity & Civic Societies —members of Just Space and one of the partners in our campaign to defend democracy & participation during the pandemic— has sent this update, reporting on their survey of London Boroughs by Paul Thornton:

“Following … two Zoom meetings and the many contributions from member societies, we have consolidated the current state of play and our recommendations on best practice in an interim report available on the London Forum website via this link.

In general, the picture is better than we might have imagined. The transfer of Planning online has gone reasonably smoothly, it has had benefits as well as drawbacks, and some of our greatest concerns (greater use of delegated powers, loss of speaking rights at Council committees etc) have either not materialised or been confined to a handful of boroughs. Continue reading

Ministry defensive on virtual meetings

8 May: The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the ministry responsible for the planning system in England) has responded to the letter from Just Space and a number of bigger and national networks in which we had defended transparent and democratic features of the planning system and called for government action.

The ministry’s reply is mainly defensive, arguing that their priority has been to keep the planning system functioning and to give local authorities the flexibility to innovate in how they do that. [The implication seems to be that it’s up to the council how they proceed; complain to them if you are unhappy.] Continue reading

Don’t let Coronavirus be an excuse for making planning less democratic

SAFEGUARDING THE PUBLIC VOICE IN PLANNING IN THE COVID ERA
A joint statement by Just Space, CPRE London, Friends of the Earth and London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies 

published 27 April, 2020 to be sent to councillors, GLA officers and assembly members and others. Please circulate widely and discuss what we do next.  This was the subject of a segment in BBC Radio 4 The World Tonight on 27th April. Listen here or download as podcast. In news items at start, then report at about 13th minute. Continue reading

Virtual meetings

Because of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) crisis none of our member organisations can hold their meetings and many have been seeking advice on how to switch to online meetings.

In response we are putting together some advice for community organisations, drawing. on Just Space member organisations and a wide network of people across Europe facing the same problems.  It’s in the form of a document which anyone can read, print or edit so please add your own experience where you think that can make it more helpful. In just 24 hours it’s already become worth publishing. It’s at
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qDOcXzDdA0hw_PBKT9txvVSKLIk4FQCi-9FugnsNVqc/edit?usp=sharing

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More ‘reforms’ for English planning

14 March 2020 The government publishes proposals for changes to planning in England at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/robert-jenrick-plans-for-the-future-to-get-britain-building

Paul Burnham comments: Both this document and the letter to the Mayor (see previous post) share this objective, ‘Everyone should have the chance to save for and buy their own home so they can have a stake in society.’

In other words, home ownership is seen as full citizenship, and to be a renter (or homeless) is to be outside society, and not to be able or willing to share in its progress – or to be concerned about ‘society’ in the same way.

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Labour leader defends Plan

Following our letter of 3 February asking members of the London Assembly to reject the Plan (our letter is the previous post here), we received a prompt reply on 5 February from Nicky Gavron, planning spokesperson for the Labour group of AMs. She writes:

Thank you for your recent email regarding the upcoming Plenary Session at the London Assembly to approve the Mayor of London’s new London Plan. [1000h at City Hall, Thursday 6 February, open to all – ed]

Writing and implementing the London Plan is one of the most significant powers the Mayor has, and as Assembly Members our responsibility to scrutinise and approve the plan

As Planning Spokesperson for the Labour Group on the Assembly, I am responding to the points you raised with my colleagues below.

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Assembly urged to reject Plan

Call to reject this London Plan

Letter sent to all Members of the London Assembly on 3 February 2020

On 6 February the Assembly will consider the Mayor’s draft new London Plan before the GLA has received the Secretary of State’s formal response to the Plan.  The SoS has written that he will provide his response on or by 17 February, so the 6 February debate is procedurally unfair and irrational as Assembly members should have an opportunity to study the response before deciding on the Plan.  We question the logic and lawfulness of this 6 February decision and urge Assembly Members to defer their decision to the 6 March meeting.

The draft new London Plan should not be adopted. Just Space and its many member groups challenged the draft plan on many deficiencies throughout its progress, have chalked up some small gains but it remains a Plan which will further deepen inequalities in the city and fall badly short on environment.

The emperor has no clothes. We call upon the Assembly to send it back for a complete re-think. Continue reading