Overview and Scrutiny Committee decision on Cressingham Gardens

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Lambeth Council will press ahead with proposals to redevelop the Cressingham Gardens estate, providing at least 464 new homes, after senior councillors rejected a call for the decision to be reconsidered.

Lambeth’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night decided that the Council’s Cabinet should not be asked to review its decision to opt for the redevelopment of the estate. However, Committee members made a number of recommendations for the Cabinet to consider – including comments on the “Test of Opinion” carried out among residents, and the financial analysis of the regeneration scheme.

Members of the Cabinet last month approved a report – “Investing in better neighbourhoods and building the homes we need to house the people of Lambeth” – proposing the replacement all the 306 homes, many of which are in a poor state of repair. The redevelopment will provide a minimum of 464 new homes – a net gain of 158 extra homes. The scheme, part of the Council’s estate regeneration programme, will contribute towards the commitment to build 1,000 extra homes at council rent levels.

The decision to authorise the Cressingham Gardens scheme was challenged by Green councillor Scott Ainslie, who questioned the validity of the test of residents’ opinion of the options available and the Council’s financial assessment of the options, and said the decision should be “reviewed on Historical/Heritage grounds”. In his official request for the decision to be “called in” by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Ainslie said: “I believe the information in the report is inaccurate which therefore brings into question the validity of the cabinet’s decision.”

After a meeting in the Town Hall last night, the committee decided the decision should stand. Members raised a number of questions, including about the methodology used to carry out the test of opinion, and suggested that the financial analysis of the rebuilding project should be more transparent. Their comments will now go to Cabinet for consideration.

Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I am pleased that the decision to go ahead with the rebuilding of Cressingham Gardens has been endorsed, and am grateful for the committee’s further recommendations.

“We face a major housing crisis in Lambeth, but in Cressingham Gardens we have the opportunity to build a new, modern estate – for existing residents and for people who at the moment do not have a secure home by increasing the number of homes for council rent for local families. I hope we can now get on with this vital project.”

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