Riverside should be rightly proud of its longstanding commitment to revitalising neighbourhoods. But ensuring our neighbourhoods stay healthy needs continuing investment.
With precious little public money available to invest in regeneration, Riverside has committed to looking to create substantial investment into estates to ensure they have a healthy long term future. In doing so we are going to have to face up to some new challenges.
In London, due to the chronic lack of affordable housing, our stock is always in demand. There are more than 70,000 new Londoners a year, but where will they all live? The only answer seems to be increasing densities.
The value of homes for sale throughout London is very high. We can unlock this value by redeveloping existing estates at higher densities to provide homes for sale. This will generate surplus’ to re-invest in affordable homes and better environments. The concern for many residents is that areas will be gentrified and become unaffordable, marginalising social housing tenants.
And there are many practical problems. In particular, the lack of homes to decant people into as redevelopment occurs. Estates that have had elongated decanting periods, with increasing voids have “degenerated” estates, breaking up established communities and creating greater problems before any investment can have an impact.
The London Mayor has pulled a lot of learning together and we are using this to ensure the tenants are at the very heart of our London regeneration plans. We are looking to ensure all our tenants only have to decant once and no-one has to leave the estate, even temporarily. This will help keep established communities together.
Although the challenges looking at lower value areas in the North may seem very different, our approach should be the same. To create value to invest in improving neighbourhoods will require change which communities will be nervous about. However, working with residents on developing a long-term vision and working through the options of how to get there will provide the solid foundation for a sustainable future.
Mark is Director of Development and Growth