Tens of thousands of much needed new homes for London could be provided through the effective regeneration of the city’s housing estates, according to a new report from planning experts.

The ‘Great Estates – Planning for Estate Regeneration in London’ Insight report from national planning and development consultancy Lichfields, reveals the significant opportunity presented by regeneration of the capital’s housing estates.

The study demonstrates that estate regeneration projects in London currently have the combined potential to deliver more than 90,000 new homes.

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The Insight report demonstrates how estate regeneration across London offers an unparalleled opportunity to help tackle the capital’s housing crisis, while delivering better homes, enhancing neighbourhoods and improving lives.

The research by Lichfields analysed data from 200 estate regeneration projects across London to identify key trends.

It shows that there are opportunities through investment and renewal for effective estate regeneration to deliver greater inclusivity, economic growth and enhanced well-being for their communities.

The London-wide analysis demonstrates that the greatest concentrations of estate regeneration are currently happening in Inner North, East and South London boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, Islington and Lambeth where clusters of small and medium estate regeneration projects are progressing alongside isolated strategic developments.

Outer London boroughs such as Barnet, Brent and Ealing include fewer larger-scale projects while other outer London boroughs showed little or no estate regeneration activity.

Ben Kelway, Senior Director at the London office of Lichfields, said:

“Through this important research, we can see that estate regeneration provides a profound opportunity for significant housing and affordable housing delivery alongside meaningful improvements to many neighbourhoods across the capital – in London we have witnessed progressive growth in this sector in recent years and we expect this to continue.

The opportunity is there to more than double the number of homes on London’s housing estates and provide much needed improvements in housing quality, community well-being and the public realm. Investment in estate regeneration has the potential to unlock high levels of new affordable housing and the capacity to create well-designed, sustainable, mixed tenure communities.”

The report outlines Lichfields’ best practice guidance on the components of successful estate regeneration and the lessons that can be learnt from previous projects.

Clare Catherall, Associate Director at Lichfields and co-author of the Insight report, said:

“There’s a number of common themes associated with successful estate regeneration.

These include positive engagement with local residents, encouraging communities to become involved in the process as early as possible, together with good housing design and well thought out urban design and public realm.

Navigating these projects through the residents’ ballot process and developing an effective phasing and decant strategy are also paramount to their success.

A positive ballot provides a mandate for good estate regeneration and community consensus, enabling delivery of the vision residents, the GLA and planning authorities all want to see.”

This reflects Lichfields’ own experience across London on regeneration projects such as the South Kilburn Estate in Brent.

There, a well-managed project is being delivered on the back of strong buy-in from residents, who voted overwhelmingly (84%) in a ballot in favour of regeneration.

Clare Catherall added:

“A positive ballot like this certainly carries weight among residents and decision-makers, helping to expedite projects quickly and smoothly.

Indeed, we find that the Mayor of London’s approach to the ballot process is providing clarity and support for well-conceived regeneration.”

The emphasis on collaboration and inclusion, she explained, along with the introduction of ballots all provide a ‘solid’ mandate for regeneration, helping sensitive developments to progress in a way that is both politically and socially acceptable.

The needs of existing residents and an estate’s capacity to provide better housing for people has a profound effect on the nature, programme and delivery of regeneration, so it’s essential to understand the needs and aspirations of residents occupying the estate and to engage residents in assessing the options for development from the outset.

“Residents have to take centre stage and should be at the forefront of estate regeneration,” added Clare Catherall.

“Alongside, sensitive and robust consultation, early analysis of the estate and an upfront phasing and decant programme are all important lessons learnt for these types of projects.”

The Insight provides Lichfields’ guidance on how to navigate estate regeneration projects through planning and illustrates the latent opportunity for London’s estates to contribute more to help tackle the capital’s acute housing crisis through imaginative regeneration strategies, considerate planning and far greater community involvement.

Ben Kelway said:

“The transformation of London’s estates has a central role to play if we are to tackle the housing crisis, but estate regeneration also provides huge opportunities to enhance the fabric of the city and to improve people’s lives.

Too many Londoners still live in substandard homes on poorly designed estates.

Regeneration offers an unparalleled opportunity to deliver more better homes and the vibrant neighbourhoods where people want to live and build their lives.

This all requires a bold vision, effective planning, strong design, political collaboration and extensive community engagement, but on the evidence contained in this report, it’s definitely possible to look forward to a strong, confident and successful future for the city’s housing estates.”

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