22 November 2010

Aylesbury Estate Shock

We don't often stray far beyond our Ward boundaries on the Peckham Rye Labour Blog, but today we've had some shocking news about the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate (east of Walworth Road, and north of Burgess Park) which I thought might interest our readers, wherever in Southwark you live.

For more than a decade, the powers that be at Southwark Council (of all political persuasions) have been seeking funding from government to regenerate this huge estate populated by 7,500 people. Tony Blair famously made his first speech as Prime Minister on the Estate. Everyone would admit that there have been far too many broken promises and false dawns for the people living on the Aylesbury.

In 2005, work finally began on "phase 1a" of a project that, it was hoped, would lead to the demolition and replacement of the poorly designed 1960's blocks. The Aylesbury regeneration is a huge and complex programme which relies on a number of different funding streams to push it forward. A Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was set to deliver 360 homes and then provide the catalyst for a further 583 homes to be built. Eventually the entire programme would have delivered 4,200 homes.

Today, the £180m PFI funding promised for the Aylesbury has been withdrawn by the government. (In total the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has withdrawn £1.9bn of funding across 13 planned Private Finance Initiative housing projects).

Cllr Fiona Colley, Southwark's Cabinet Member for Regeneration today wrote to all Southwark Councillors setting out her, and Southwark Labour's determination to overcome this blow. She wrote:

"Despite this setback, we have to press ahead with our regeneration plans on behalf of residents, who will always be our main priority. We are seeking to arrange urgent meetings with the government and swiftly following up the HCA’s [Homes and Communities Agency's] offer to consider future options. Aside from this, we will continue to explore every option available to us and will in no way be defeated by this decision. We do not yet know what the overall impact of this decision will mean but Southwark Council is experienced in seeing large-scale regeneration projects come to fruition and we remain committed to Aylesbury’s successful regeneration."

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