Residents of the Ledbury Estate have been following closely the events and investigations on our sibling Large Panel System estates over recent months. Haringey Council have recently made a decision to decant two of the blocks on Broadwater Farm (Tangmere and Northolt) as, like Ledbury, they require structural strengthening. The difference between Haringey and Southwark Council however, is their opinions on the future of their blocks.
Southwark Councillors have repeatedly expressed that their preferred option is to refurbish and strengthen the four Ledbury Estate tower blocks.
In an email of 11th May 2018, Southwark's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Stephanie Cryan reiterated: 'In respect of the commitments I have publically made in respect of the tower blocks, I have always said that my hope is that we can carry out the strengthening works required and that my wish is that we won’t have to demolish the four towers. This still remains my view'
Southwark's Cllr Stephanie Cryan has been outspoken on the issue of demolition to the Ledbury Estate on many occasions, and at many meetings, making clear, that both her and the council's preferred option for Ledbury, is to refurbish and strengthen the four tower blocks.
In Haringey, it appears to be a different story. The agenda for the upcoming Haringey Cabinet meeting repeatedly lays out multiple reasons why Haringey's preferred option for their two affected LPS blocks on Broadwater Farm is demolition, including:
- 'The degree of structural work needed to achieve the required level of safety standards is extremely costly'
- 'this would significantly impact on the funding available to do other necessary works to other Council estates'
- 'Council's preferred option is to demolish the blocks'
- 'The estimated cost of strengthening Tangmere is £13m...The estimated cost of strengthening Northolt is £12m...Rebuilding the homes in both blocks would also come at a significant cost (for illustration, in the range of £32m to £54m to rebuild the homes in both blocks based on industry standard build cost estimates, but would represent an investment in high quality, new homes with a longer life and lower maintenance costs. Further, whilst the cost of strengthening would have to be met entirely from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), new build homes would likely be eligible for external grant which would reduce the cost to the Council.'
- 'This administration was elected on a commitment of providing a safe, decent and affordable home for everyone. It is now clear that two blocks at Broadwater Farm cannot fulfil this promise for the long-term'
- 'It is possible to strengthen these two blocks to bring them up to a habitable standard. However, the cost of that strengthening work is very high indeed. Only strengthening the blocks would not offer our residents the decent council homes we are committed to ensuring all our tenants live in.'
- 'Disrupting the lives of our tenants for so long to only deliver habitable homes at such a high cost falls far below the aspirations we have for those residents'
- 'As a Council we also have a duty to maintain the long-term health of the Council‟s finances, and to consider the direct impact such a cost would have on our ability both to maintain the rest of our existing homes, many of which are in desperate need of investment'
- 'We are also determined to deliver the new homes which Haringey so desperately needs. That‟s why we have come to view that the most appropriate thing to do is demolish these blocks and rebuild new council homes on the estate'
- 'the Council‟s preferred option in the consultation will be to demolish the blocks due to the significant cost of the works needed to address the health and safety issues identified.'
- 'Based on estimates received by Homes for Haringey, the costs of strengthening works would have a significant impact on the Housing Revenue Account‟s position'
-'The Council is therefore proposing to consult residents on whether it should strengthen or demolish the blocks, with its preferred option being to rehouse residents, demolish the blocks and rebuild the Council homes on the estate.'
What Are The Implications For Ledbury?
The cost projections for the four Ledbury towers were completed in early 2018 and include estimated costs for strengthening and refurbishment options, as well as demolition and rebuild. As with Broadwater Farm, the cost of demolition at Ledbury is considerably higher than the cost of refurbishment.
Cllr. Stephanie Cryan has spent the past several years in charge of Southwark's Housing portfolio, so the issues raised above by Haringey, we anticipate, will have all been considered in their entirety by Cllr Cryan and other officers in Southwark Council, before they made their preferred option for refurbishment known publicly.
Undoubtedly, before stating and announcing their preferred option, all of the relevant factors mentioned in the Haringey case will have been taken into account by Southwark.
Therefore we do not expect to see any of the above points raised in the final cabinet decision for the Ledbury Estate which is due in October.