Thursday, 7 February 2013

An Inspector Calls: CPOs, Heygate, Elephant and Castle, Southwark, Lend Lease

Moji Ojeikere, mother-of-three and civil servant (above left), invited government Inspector Wenda Fabian (right) to look around her home yesterday (6th February), a sturdy apartment on the fifth floor of a Heygate Estate perimeter block overlooking south London's Elephant and Castle.
   Fabian walked around the vast and almost empty Heygate in her role as Inspector gathering evidence for an ongoing public inquiry into Compulsory Purchase Orders issued by Southwark Council against Ojeikere's leasehold property and that of Adrian Glasspool, another Heygate leaseholder.
   Fabian was accompanied by Southwark Council officers who want the Secretary of State to confirm the CPOs after Fabian concludes her inquiry at Southwark's Tooley Street HQ. 
   The Council says only then can its Regeneration Agreement with global property developer Lend Lease demolish and clear the 22-acre Heygate for a phased 12-year redevelopment that will deliver thousands of new homes - including 'affordable homes' -  local jobs, retail units and parkland.

Citizen v corporation 
If nothing else, Fabian's inquiry has given Ojeikere and Glasspool the opportunity to publicly question Lend Lease's land and planning director, Rob Heasman. In a kind of David and Goliath exhange, Glasspool quizzed Heasman about independently reported scenarios that raise doubts about the viability of Lend Lease's plans to deliver 25% per cent of new homes as affordable.
   Heasman described Lend Lease's commitment to 25% affordable housing as "a one hundred per cent guarantee". 
   Glasspool asked Heasman if the 25% plan was a viable proposition for Lend Lease.
 "We'll make it viable," replied Heasman.

Inspector Wenda Fabian with 'security assistant' (rear)
and Southwark Council project director Jon Abbott (left).
Truly affordable
Michael Edwards, an economist and senior lecturer at University College London, told the inquiry that the Southwark-Lend Lease scheme will not satisfy the huge local need for new social or "truly affordable" homes. Glasspool and Ojeikere told Fabian the scheme will provide less than 80 social homes.
   "It would be wrong to approve the CPOs in pursuit of a deficient scheme," concluded Edwards.
  Heasman told the inquiry the CPOs were vital for the new mixed-tenure development to proceed. "We understand scale and size and take a long-term view on creating new places," said Heasman. "But we will not sit on our hands. We want new homes to come out of the ground."
   Southwark councillors approved an outline plan for the Heygate's redevelopment last month. A detailed application on the first phase of the scheme was approved by councillors on Tuesday.
   The inquiry continues.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, February 2013

Photos: © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence. No re-use without permission.

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