The 100-or-so households living in council tower blocks and surrounding properties on Regina Road are to be balloted in the next month over whether the damp and mould-blighted buildings should be demolished.
The decision to go-ahead with the estate ballot – to be paid for by the Mayor of London – was agreed at last night’s council cabinet meeting, following a two-month-long consultation with residents. The consultation results showed most residents agreeing with the view of a council director that the buildings are beyond repair.
Regina Road was thrust into the national spotlight in March 2021, when ITV News reports shocked the nation by showing the “dangerous squalor” and slum-like conditions of some of the council flats there, where leaks had been reported months before but which the council’s maintenance contractors had failed to repair.
Independent consultants, in the weeks immediately following the television news coverage, found systemic failures and incompetence in the council’s housing department.
Inside Croydon reported in August how attempts to repair and refurbish some of the blighted flats had failed to deliver satisfactory improvements in the living conditions endured by council tenants. By November last year, the council’s housing director, Susmita Sen, said, “An appropriate conclusion might be that the tower blocks are no longer fit for purpose and that the most effective remedy may be to demolish.”
Any decision to demolish the blocks off South Norwood High Street could have significant implications for Croydon’s other council tenants: there are 10 similar-aged, Wates-built blocks at other locations around the borough.
According to the council’s press office, last night’s cabinet “heard that following recent consultation between the council and residents, the council’s preferred option is to demolish and rebuild the estate, in line with resident feedback.
“A ballot will now be held to put residents firmly at the heart of the final decision, making sure any future regeneration is done with their support.”
According to the council, all eligible Regina Road tenants, leaseholders and freeholders within the consultation area will soon receive information from the council to explain what decisions have been made, what this means for them and who to talk to if they have any questions.
“The ballot will be run by an independent body and is due to take place during April and May with the outcome reported back to a future cabinet meeting,” the council said.
Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats
Read more: Investigation finds systemic failure and incompetence in council
Read more: Council’s flats scandal caused by ‘complete corporate failure’
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Demolish just to realise there is no budget to built new one, I would not trust this council anything
The key question should be — what type of redevelopment would be desirable in the local context, and on the space available? Then, who has the track record to deliver developments and look after them, in the short, medium and long term.?
Last year I attended a conference staged by the Town and Country Planning Association about “all age developments”. These were also “green developments” with a setting of green grass, suitable trees, and other sensible planting.
The examples shown depicted pleasant, low rise but varied height buildings loosely ( but securely) enclosing a landscaped area that was much more than a courtyard.
The range of accommodation included homes of different sizes, from 1 bed flats upwards, for young and old, with play integrated into this area, not as a play enclosure. The idea was to give opportunities for people of all ages to come together in the communal spaces, but feel secure. There were vegetable growing areas, and outdoor seating and some covered seating areas. All looked viable in terms of being practical as a well as attractive.
I do hope that the Council find some development partners such as some housing associations who can design, implement and maintain integrated developments, not just fill the space with lower rise blocks, and apply the bare minimum of management.
Oh come on ….we all know the answer. Having run the place into the ground so they can pull it down the Council will now flog the land off to the highest bidder.