Tenants pass vote of no confidence in Camden’s regeneration chief
Danny Beales insist Wendling residents get to make 'key decisons'
14 February, 2020 — By Helen Chapman
A ‘show of hands’ vote
TENANTS whose homes could be demolished in an estate regeneration have held a vote of no confidence in the Camden councillor in charge of the project.
An emergency meeting was called at the Wendling Estate in Gospel Oak after a timeline was released by the Town Hall detailing how the work could be completed by 2025.
The estate consists of 241 homes, 194 of which are council properties. But under the new plans it would have 750 new homes, of which 40 per cent would be affordable housing. Residents say they gave no approval and have not been properly consulted on the plans.
Luisa Serna, 20, who lives on the estate, said: “We’ve been left in the dark and at the end of the day it’s our homes, it’s our housing. A part of me is scared – where am I going to end up?”
The regeneration works on Bacton, Wendling and West Kentish Town estates are part of the council Community Investment Programme, currently facing an internal investigation into its value by a panel of backbench councillors. A yes/no ballot has been promised for residents to have their say about the scheme before works begin, but critics say this is mired in a lack of clarity. Residents said the ballot would not cover future housing allocations when the estate is rebuilt and what design new buildings would have.
Emma Daly, who has lived in Wendling for 20 years, said: “What we need to think about is how this whole area is going to change. “If they are planning on building 750 homes and 500 are going to be private, we really need to think about what that means for the area.”
She added: “I am a leaseholder and I am currently living alongside council residents, but what the council are now telling me is if I want to buy back into this development I will be living in a separate block. These are all things to think about when thinking about what this community needs and how it feels to be a part of it.”
Adil Ryan, another resident, told last meeting last Tuesday: “It’s social cleansing. There is already enough space to build new flats.” And he added: “We all want the same thing at the moment and that is the truth.”
In a show of hands vote, the vast majority said they had no confidence in Labour councillor Danny Beales’ handling of the scheme.
He was not at the meeting but said afterwards: “Over the past two years, the council has been working in partnership with Wendling residents to develop plans to rejuvenate homes whilst also addressing specific local issues, such as overcrowding and resident safety. Through our extensive engagement so far, residents have been largely positive about these proposals, and we identified their preferred option was full estate redevelopment.”
Cllr Beales added: “We believe it is vital that residents are able to make key decisions in this process, which is why we are committed to giving residents the final say on whether to take forward the plans with a yes/no ballot at a time that is favoured by residents. It is residents themselves who will ultimately decide if the scheme does or doesn’t proceed. “We understand there are issues and concerns for some people living there. This is a major decision for anyone to make. “We are committed to working together in partnership to explore these issues further, and we have a good deal of time to do