Published On: 26th March 2024

Fight4Aylesbury have written and delivered an Open letter to the Leader and Cabinet members of Southwark Council. 

A central demand, that everyone on the Aylesbury agrees on, is that there should be NO CLOSED REPORTS ON AYLESBURY FUTURE PHASES.  They demand greater transparency from both Southwark Council and Notting Hill Genesis.

The letter was hand-delivered on the occasion of the meeting of the Housing, Community Safety and Community Engagement Scrutiny Commission on Thursday 21/3, and was also sent by email, to be put on the agenda of their next meeting (the date of which is yet to be confirmed). 

It is important, they believe, that these Councillors, the Leader Kieron Williams, and the Cabinet are aware of their key demands as soon as possible. 

Important decisions about the Aylesbury are in the process of being made, and all residents’ concerns and aspirations, they say, need to inform that process. 

Fight4Aylesbury says:  “Southwark Council should understand better why residents are so passionate about saving their precious Council homes and why so many believe that this IS a practical option.  We are fed up with copy-cat repetition of phrases from Councillors such as  “the original homes that were badly built” or that they are “no longer fit for purpose”.  These statements are lazy and, so far, unsubstantiated.  Untackled pest infestations and poor maintenance are not evidence that the buildings are structurally unsound.  We would like to see a proper, independent investigation of the viability of refurbishment, from structural, environmental and community perspectives, as well financial.”

The Fight4Aylesbury Campaign Group, along with their lawyers from PILC, organised a public meeting in February following the success of the legal challenge against the decision to amend the outline planning permission. They discussed what their Judicial Review win means for the estate, and what’s next. The key demands from this meeting have been summarised into this Open letter.  Southwark and NHG plans to build a 25 storey block of private homes on site Phase 2B would have broken the OPP height restrictions on new buildings.

An Open letter to Southwark Council

What is happening to the Aylesbury estate?

The first steps for the regeneration of the Aylesbury estate were taken in 1999 and its redevelopment is now 25 years old. Although a number of homes have been built, only a few of them retained traditional council rents with lifetime tenancies or social rent. Many tenants and leaseholders were displaced. Lives have been hugely disrupted. And while some residents have been fortunate enough to get new homes, most have had little benefit from the estate’s regeneration. Living conditions on the estate are deteriorating and too many Aylesbury residents are living in insecurity and discomfort, with painfully uncertain futures.

The future progress of the regeneration is also shrouded in uncertainty. After 25 years only Phase One of the four–‐phase regeneration is anywhere near completion. Southwark and its development partner Notting Hill Genesis have fallen foul of the law in their plans for Phase 2B. A long–‐promised report on the future phases has been delayed many times.

These delays and setbacks have gone unexplained. Southwark Council must now speak to Aylesbury residents and answer the question – what are your plans for the future of our estate? We demand open discussions, no closed reports. NOW is the time to speak to residents. And listen.

We believe that this is an opportunity for Southwark to consider a new direction: a transparent investigation of the option of refurbishment, to keep the remaining community together and to deal with new climate challenges.

We think that the best deal for residents and our environment is one that retains our current precious homes. Southwark Council should:

  • Invest in and improve the buildings we already have;
  • Insulate, retrofit and refurbish
  • Stop managed decline and undertake repairs
  • Give security of tenure to our temporary tenants
  • Stop social cleansing and demolition

Whatever plans are adopted, the Aylesbury will still remain home for many people for many years. A programme of repairs is needed for the whole estate now. Void properties should be brought back into the housing stock, not just used as temporary accommodation. Temporary tenants, many of whom have lived on the estate for years, should be given the security of permanent tenancies. Leaseholders have also been treated badly in the past and must now be given a fair deal. The green spaces, playgrounds and MUGAs we have need to be retained to support health and welfare of the residents.

Southwark Council pledged in 2018 to give the people of the borough ‘A Fairer Future…where all residents have the opportunity to fulfil their potential’. It is time for Southwark to make this a reality for the people of the Aylesbury.

Signed: The Fight4Aylesbury collective