STOP REGENERATION BY DEMOLITION – KEEP HOME PRICES LOW BY MAINTAINING COUNCIL ESTATES

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We believe that council estates are an important part in the solution to the housing crisis and they should be preserved. The destruction of council estates and their replacement with private, more expensive housing will only exacerbate the housing crisis and will increase home prices. Residents in council estates are workers necessary for the proper functioning of our cities. They are waiters, taxi drivers, clerks, shop assistants, nurses, train drivers, bus drivers, etc. If they are forced to live in areas further away, our cities will eventually grind to a halt. Please do something and stop Regeneration by Demolition.

The current housing crisis is a serious problem that needs to be addressed urgently and this has prompted many politicians to come up with all sorts of solutions. One idea that has taken hold in recent years is that council estates should be demolished and redeveloped in order to provide more homes. This is a profoundly pernicious idea which will have very negative effects for all UK residents, not just council estate residents.

If you don’t live in a council estate, you may think that this does not affect you and that, in fact, you would prefer to get rid of all those “unsightly” council estates. But this does affect your wallet very much indeed. With the introduction of the right to buy policy, excouncil properties have become a reservoir of “cheaper” properties that helps to keep the prices of the other properties lower. If you remove these cheaper properties from the market and replace them with more expensive private ones, the obvious consequence is that the prices of the other properties will go up. This will affect everybody and most people will agree that it’s not good that property prices go up at the fast pace we have been seeing during the last years. Even if you are a homeowner and think that the increase in prices is increasing the value of your own home, think again. It’s very unlikely that your salary or other means of income increase at the same rate as property prices. This means that If you want to move to a bigger house, it will be more difficult for you to secure a mortgage because the amount to be financed (value of the new property minus equity of your current property) will be a higher proportion of your salary now than when you secured your current mortgage. In other words, the financial effort you’ll have to make to get the bigger or better house will be bigger now than when you bought your current property. You’ll always be stuck in your property or a similar one in a similar area. And if you have children, the higher the prices the more difficult it will be for them to get their first home. You have to ask who benefits the most from demolishing and rebuilding council estates. The obvious answer is, of course, developers, not us.

At a time when the tory government is banging the drum of austerity, councils of all political colours all over the country are planning to demolish and regenerate their council estates. It’s not necessary to be a rocket scientist to know that demolishing and rebuilding is many times more expensive than just maintaining and repairing what is already in place. Moreover, the quality of construction of most council estates built in the 50s and 60s is much better than the quality you can find in new developments. For example, quite recently it was reported that blocks of flats in a new development owned by Wandle Housing Association are going to be demolished and rebuilt just six years after they were built.

Councils are ignoring alternative proposals by local residents and are bulldozing their way into the estates and demolishing them, with the silent acquiescence of all of us. This was very well documented in the excellent BBC documentary “The Estate We’re In”.

There is something extremely patronising about your local Council telling you that your home is not in good condition and needs to be demolished. Many council residents are proud of their homes, they like the area where they live and have developed communities in their estates which will be destroyed if local council plans go ahead. Regeneration plans are approved by people who don’t live in council estates, who don’t know about their communities and who don’t seem to care much about the council estate residents.

For all of this, we are asking you to sign this petition, which we intend to address to the Prime Minister, the leaders of all political parties with representation in Parliament and the mayor of London.



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