Petition launched to stop South Kilburn regeneration ballot so 8,000 others can take part
PUBLISHED: 14:19 11 October 2019
Communities in South Kilburn want a controversial regeneration ballot postponed - because 8,000 people cannot vote and others believe it is "too vague" for people to make a real choice.
Brent Council is holding a ballot as part of the massive South Kilburn regeneration project, which is halfway through and due for completion in 2029.
Back in 2004 the whole community were included to participate in the South Kilburn Masterplan 1 plans.
Only 1,000 eligible households, those living in 17 run-down blocks, are being asked whether they are "in favour of the proposal to continue with the regeneration of South Kilburn" before the deadline on Monday.
A "yes" vote will provide 1,400 homes and "improvements to the neighbourhood" and "no" means the tower blocks, many housing people in temporary accommodation, will remain as they are.
The ballot is part of London mayor Sadiq Khan's plan that major estate regeneration schemes must have residents' backing before they can receive funding from his office.
Brent Council pointed out the Greater London Authority (GLA) set the guidelines for who should be balloted. But in recent days a petition has been launched asking Mr Khan to review the eligibility criteria to ensure all residents on the South Kilburn estates have a say on a decision that "could define the future of [the] neighbourhood for years to come".
To complicate matters further the council is shortly due to publish the Brent Local Plan, which will have repercussions for the entire ward as it involves the future of two schools and a pocket park. David Walton said: "I voted in Ballot 1 (sic) on South Kilburn Masterplan 1 and so I should be able to vote in Ballot 2 on South Kilburn Masterplan 2, and so should all my neighbours as well.
"The problem here is that only one eighth of South Kilburn growth area households are being engaged and allowed to vote now in 2019, which is deeply shocking."
He said Brent's Local Plan, which takes into account the South Kilburn Masterplan 2016 and that ballot result, is not yet written into the new proposals.
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The council said a public consultation will begin on October 25.
Campaigners are urging people to say "no" to the ballot because of a lack of clarity.
Leslie Barson, co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen, said: "There are major problems with the regeneration and these must be dealt with properly first.
"People are not really being given a voice, they are being bamboozled into saying yes with a tremendous ad campaign. In one, temporary households are told they will not be given permanent homes if they vote no."
Ms Barson said there is also a lack of clarity on who the council will partner with as landlord, or if they will build the flats themselves, and on the nature of new tenancies in the new blocks.
"People don't know what they are voting for," she added.
In May, as reported in this paper, neighbours living in new build blocks in Carlton Vale and Kilburn Park Road told of high service charges that had shot up by 136 per cent in a few years, and how they felt "trapped" in what they said were "defective and neglected" homes run by L&Q housing association.
The same month, all residents of the new Merle Court, owned by Catalyst Housing Association, were told they had to move due to "defects" in the new building.
Cllr Shama Tatler, Brent's regeneration chief, said the current plans are the "best way to make South Kilburn a better place to live" adding: "If not enough residents vote in favour, the council would not be able to finance the regeneration and much needed new social housing, older tower blocks will stay, and many families will have to remain living in overcrowded homes."
A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: "Londoners who live on estates must have a real say in any plans for where they live.
"The GLA sets guidelines for resident ballots that councils must follow before they can access City Hall funding for estate regeneration schemes. When a council applies for funding, the GLA will assess whether these guidelines have been followed."
You can view the petition go to change.org/p/sadiq-khan-save-south-kilburn-regeneration-program-claim-your-right-to-vote.