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TIMELINE − a resident consultation

The following timetable merges information from personal notes and documents written by Cressingham residents in an intensively collaborative exorcise as part of the Lambeth public consultation, two Judicial Reviews, preparation of Cressingham residents ‘The Peoples Plan’ and applications to the the Department for Communities and Local Government to exercise the Right to transfer and Right To Manage Cressingham.

1963 November: First compulsory purchase orders in preporation for building Cressingham.

1967 March: Design started.

1969 January: Housing committee approved design.

1971 February: Carlton Contractors chosen after tender process.

1971 May: Work started on site.

1978 September: Handover of final blocks and first residents move in.

2012 July: Lambeth’s regeneration team met with the Cressingham Residents Association to discuss repairs issues and concerns. Soon after these initial meetings, Cressingham was the first estate to be included within Lambeth’s borough-wide regeneration programme. Lambeth Officers informed the Residents Association that the estate was suffering from major structural issues and that there was a lack of funds available for repairs. In response, after members of the Residents Association complained about a lack of clarity from Lambeth housing officers over finance and repairs data, the Residents Association pushed Lambeth for an estate-wide survey. The survey revealed minor structural problems and that poor maintenance were the primary cause of repairs issues across the estate (Tall Consulting Structural Engineers 2013).

2012: Lambeth’s press office stated that “People living in Cressingham Gardens will have a unique opportunity to decide the future of their estate” (???). Lambeth’s statement echoed their stated aim of becoming a ‘cooperative council’ (Hay Group and Lambeth Borough Council 2012), which aimed to engage with, listen to, and work with Lambeth residents to develop solutions to problems such as housing. Despite these intentions the lived experience of Lambeths consultation by us Cressingham residents can be described as anything but cooperative.

2012 September: Lambeth hold an exhibition on Cressingham stating that they have inadequate funds in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for repairs and maintenance.

2013 November: Draft survey report by Tall Engineers published. The report states that the biggest problems on the estate are due to lack of repairs and maintenance rather than structural issues.

2014 May: Members of the Cressingham Residents Association initiated inquiries with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) regarding their Right To Manage repairs on the estate, and their Right To Transfer ownership from Lambeth to a resident lead management organisation. The DCLG gave Cressingham residents approval to explore options for possible transfer and management. This later resulted in a resident-led tender & interview process to appoint a lead advisor to assist in exploring the options.

2014 May: Lambeth Labour (2014) elected to the council winning a huge majority of 59 out of 63 council seats, with a pledge to build an additional 1,000 council homes (Lambeth Labour Party 2014).

2014 May: The grounds of the consultation shift as a result of the Lambeth Labour Party manifesto. Lambeth officers were now looking to construct additional homes on Cressingham. Frustrated with the change of focus and lack of a project plan the Residents Association presented a plan of action to Lambeth’s regeneration team.

2014 November: Lambeth issue a regeneration consultation document to all residents. This document introduces five options: - Option one − Refurbishing the estate and bringing all council tenant homes up to decent homes standard. - Options two and three − Refurbishing as in Option 1 and building additional homes. - Option four − Partial demolition of the estate and building additional homes. - Option fine − Full demolition and rebuilding of the estate.

2014 November: As a result of the residents association project plan, Lambeth housing officers agreed on a series of workshops. These workshops, which were led by consultants external to Lambeth, explored finance details, the possibility for green refurbishment, and resident-led management of Cressingham. These workshops aimed to feed into the five options proposed by Lambeth.

2014 December: Central government agrees that Cressingham residents can ‘explore the options’ for the Right to Manage and Right to Transfer ownership of the estate. Central government provides funds for residents to engage an advisor.

Feb 2015: Lambeths Tenant Management team reluctantly state that they will support Cressingham residents applications for Right to Manage.

2015 February: Lambeth’s Cabinet member for housing, Matthew Bennett announced Lambeth had removed refurbishment options 1-3 from the consultation. Lambeth officers had previously informed residents that full demolition was unaffordable.

2015 March: Lambeth’s Cabinet members approved Bennett’s decision to remove options from the consultation.

2015 April: Cressingham residents appoint ‘Open Communities’ as lead advisor to explore options for Right to Manage, and Right to Transfer.

2015 May: Lambeth refused to sign funding application for exploring the options ‘Right to Manage’ process.

2015 July: Cabinet members approve a proposal to demolish the entire estate. This decision ignored a July 2015 resident-led survey which indicated 86% (of a 72% response rate) of residents wanted refurbishment, with only 4% in favour of demolition. As a response, Cressingham residents instigated a High Court Judicial Review and argued that Lambeth had failed to provide proof that refurbishment was unaffordable and had also not taken residents views into account.

Jul 2015: High Court judge rules that residents have a case for a judicial review of Lambeth’s regeneration consultation.

2015 May: Lambeth sign funding application for exploring the options within the ‘Right to Manage’ process.

2015 November: The judgement saw the March and July decisions quashed by Judge Mrs Justice Laing in (2015). Lambeth chose not to appeal the decision of the court. The 2015 Judicial review required Lambeth to consult with Cressingham residents on the full range of options 1-5.

2016 January: Lambeth commenced a new consultation in which Cressingham residents quickly characterised as a shotgun consultation because of limited time provided for resident feedback and input. As an example, Lambeth officers provided highly complex and incomplete financial viability information just two weeks before a consultation deadline, even though officers had repeatedly promised this information for more than a year.

2016 March: Cressingham residents met to vote on (and approved) proposals to serve notice on Lambeth for both the Right To Manage and Right To Transfer Cressingham. Residents approved both options because the future of Cressingham was unclear at that time, and they had concerns Lambeth would remove legislative rights from tenants within their plans for regeneration.

2016 March: Cressingham residents responded to Lambeth’s ‘shotgun’ consultation in the form of The People’s Plan (Cressingham Gardens Residents 2016). The plan proposed a fully costed and affordable refurbishment, with an additional 37 homes at current rent levels. The document was produced as a collaborative exercise devised through workshops with residents, door knocking, exhibitions, and close work with an architectural firm, a quantity surveyor, financial consultants, legal expertise, journalists, green retrofit experts, and technology and community arts professionals − many of whom were or continue to be residents on the estate.

2016 March Lambeth (2016) rejected proposals outlined in The Peoples Plan for a £9 million refurbishment with more council-owned homes that those proposed within Lambeth’s report. Lambeth’s recommendations included costs for buy-back of properties from homeowners, compensation to displaced residents, on top of costs for demolition and rebuild. In total, Lambeth estimated that the regeneration of Cressingham would cost around £110 million which would need to be funded by their SPV ‘Homes For Lambeth’. Lambeth’s SPV is a complex arrangement of private companies tasked with financing and delivering Lambeth’s regeneration programme. Homes For Lambeth operates outside the restrictions of local authority legislation.

2016 May: Residents garner support from the only Green party ward councillor in Lambeth so ‘call-in’ the March 2016 cabinet decision to demolish.

2016 May: Lambeth, after much delay and contestation, agree to accept Cressingham residents Right to Manage notice.

2016 June: Despite pending judicial review, Lambeth begins re-tendering process for a development management teams, with an interview and selection process involving members of a highly contested (by Cressingham residents) ‘Resident Engagement Panel’.

2016 August: The High Court rules that Cressingham residents have a case for a second judicial review of Lambeths regeneration consultation. As a consequence of this ruling lambeth is not permitted to do anything irreversible and cannot rely on any subsequent actions on their part to argue that they have made concrete commitments and move forward.

2016 April: Lambeth issues summary dashboard of new 30 year Housing Revenue Account (HRA) business plan. The debt cap is no longer an issue (with £52m free debt capacity available at the lowest point), but for an un-identified reason the HRA is shown to be bankrupt by 2019/20 which would be an unlawful position. This new business plan shows that the HRA position never recovers over the 30 years, but rather annually goes further and further into the red, with total net loss by year 30 of -£194m.

2016 September: Lambeth submitted an objection to the Right to Transfer notice with the Secretary of State, to which Cressingham residents wrote a response and are now, at of time writing, waiting for a final decision.

2016 November: Consultation deadline for lambeth’s ‘key guarantees’ to tenants and homeowners facing regeneration. These guarantees outline what residents should expect to happen after their homes are demolished.

2016 November: Lambeth’s decision to demolish Cressingham, along with the financial arrangements of Homes For Lambeth prompted the @savecressingham campaign to instigate a second Judicial review where we argued on five grounds:

  1. Lambeth had erroneously included a £7.5m loan to a private development company that falsely adjusted NPV calculations to make the scheme appear financially viable.
  2. Lambeth Officers misled Cabinet members about TPP.
  3. Lambeth had failed to provide Cressingham residents up-to-date data relating to Lambeth finances.
  4. Lambeth’s proposal to remove tenants ‘Right to Buy’ was contrary to current government policy under Article 1, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

2016 December: Mayor of London, Sadik Khan publishes draft good practice guide to regeneration which is widely criticised by housing campaigners.

2016 December: The @savecressingham campaign lost this second judicial review (Mr Justice Holgate 2016), therefore the decision to demolish Cressingham still stands. However, Cressingham residents continued to pursue both Right To Manage and Right To Transfer options for Cressingham as poor quality repairs and maintenance continue to be a significant issue on the estate.

2018 February: Cressingham residents learn that Lambeth would provide Homes For Lambeth with a £300m public loan with no details of how that loan would be paid back to the public purse.

2017 March: End of the Mayors second round of consultation on estate regeneration. 95% of respondents supported Ballots for residents facing regeneration.

2017 September: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announces a policy of Ballots for residents facing regeneration during his conference speech.

2018 February: Mayor of London, Sadik Khan, launches Better Homes for Local People – a good practice guide for estate regeneration in London. The report supports the principle of mandatory ballots for residents as part of estate regeneration schemes.

2018 February: Leader of Lambeth, Lib Peck, announces that Cressingham Gardens will be exempt from a resident Ballot as plans for the estate are too far progressed. However, campaigners argue not even a single drawing has been produced for a proposed new development.

2018 February: Central government’s assessment of Cressingham residents ability to manage the estate. The report fully supports the resident application for the Right to Manage.

2018 March: Cressingham residents discover (Topple 2018) that the Mayor has appeared to have rushed through funding to Lambeth prior to his decision on estate ballots. Because funding has been allocated before publishing his decision this potentially allows Lambeth to avoid Ballots for Cressingham residents. This may be grounds for further Judicial Review.

Cressingham Gardens Residents. 2016. “The People’s Plan: Cressingham Gardens Estate.” http://cressinghampeoplesplan.org.uk/docs/TPP.pdf.

Hay Group, and Lambeth Borough Council. 2012. “Behaviours for the Cooperative Council.” https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ec-lambeth-behaviours-cooperative-council.pdf.

London Borough of Lambeth. 2016. “Agenda Item - Investing in Better Neighbourhoods and Building the Homes We Need to House the People of Lambeth.” https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=30860\#mgDocuments.

Mr Justice Holgate. 2016. “Plant V London Borough of Lambeth.”

Tall Consulting Structural Engineers. 2013. “Cressingham Gardens Estate Structural Report.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/219718/response/686941/attach/3/Cressingham\%20Gardens.pdf.

The Honourable Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing. 2015. “Bokrosova V London Borough of Lambeth.”

Topple, Steve. 2018. “Exposed: How Sadiq Khan and Labour Councils Betrayed London Families over the Housing Crisis | the Canary.” https://www.thecanary.co/exclusive/2018/03/26/exposed-how-sadiq-khan-and-labour-councils-betrayed-london-families-over-the-housing-crisis/.