Cllr Bennett and the mystery of the financial models…

Residents have consistently told Cllr Bennett that in order to be properly consulted they must be provided with the full facts – this is the ‘co-operative council’ after all, and it’s hardly rocket science that transparency would hopefully encourage residents trust.

But…the pattern so far in residents’ dealings with Lambeth has been the withholding of information. Other estates under forced regeneration have already been shown options and bombarded with information so why the different approach with Central Hill? Is it a strategy to keep residents in the dark, to avoid challenge? Could it be that they are behind on their ‘timeline’? Or are they simply taking their time to get make sure they can justify their preferred option? Who knows…

At the resident drop in session organised by Lambeth in March 2015, Cllr Bennett verbally stated that finances would be the main deciding factor in which option would be chosen for the estate. Therefore it is absolutely vital that residents are also shown this information if Lambeth can ever claim to have provided a proper informed consultation. Cllr Bennett also stated that residents would be provided with all the information that he gets, including costings…however this has never been backed up in writing.

Cllr Bennett has continually stated that there is no money for repairs which is why they are looking at rebuilding the estate. The cost of bringing the estate up to Decent Homes standard (aka Lambeth Housing Standard) has been cited again and again in the explanation for why our estate in particular needs ‘redeveloping’.

However a recent Freedom of Information Request to Lambeth raises serious questions about this:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/central_hill_estate_regeneration?nocache=incoming-647199#incoming-647199

The information provided includes a matrix which was apparently used to decide which estates to include in the regeneration programme.

Crucially, Central Hill scores “below average” in terms of the cost of investing in the estate to bring it up to Decent Homes standard. The numbers are removed from the document but we can see that in fact most other estates in Lambeth will cost more to repair/refurb.

The high score given for “planning opportunities” indicates that Central Hill was chosen for regeneration largely because of “interest by external parties due to the location of the site” i.e. the desirability and potential profit available from the land. This is perhaps unsurprising given what we have all seen of the increase in property prices in the Crystal Palace area in recent years.

The crime and ASB on the estate that Cllr Bennett refers to on twitter (and which is not backed up by the actual crime statistics for the estate) is referred to as “average” – which further debunks some of the rhetoric from Lambeth and PRP architects so far (see here for an example of their blatant demonization of the estate).

But to return to the issue of the financial basis of the regeneration…

According to Cllr Bennett’s timeline (outlined in his letter here) – the “financial analysis of options” (viability assessment) will be completed in June/July. The “viability of various options will be done before they are presented”…hmmm so no guarantee there that residents will be shown the facts and figures. Probably just the pretty drawings then…

Meanwhile over on twitter…

twitter MB financial models

…still no confirmation from Cllr Bennett, despite his verbal commitments to transparency, that we will see actual costs of ALL options (and yes we mean including what it would really cost to repair/refurb). You’d think there might be something to hide.

Just to put this in the wider context, here is the response Cressingham Gardens FOI request for openness about the financial models being used to justify demolition of their estate  – in which they were advised it would not be released as this could inhibit the officers “blue sky thinking”. This might be funny if it weren’t so depressing…

This entry was posted in Essential information. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *