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Lambeth Council forced to rethink Cressingham Gardens estate demolition after High Court ruling

Lambeth Borough Council has been forced to rerun a consultation on its decision to demolish one of its housing estates after the High Court ruled it had acted unlawfully.

Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing found that the council was wrong to remove three out of five alternative proposals originally put forward for the redevelopment of Cressingham Gardens without seeking residents’ views.

The Labour-run council began a consultation process in November 2014 to canvass residents’ views on of the estate’s future.

It originally proposed five options to be consulted on, three of which involved refurbishment and two of which comprised part and full demolition.

However, the refurbishment options were removed in March 2015 before tenant sub-groups, set up by the council, had been allowed to report back.

The council said these options were withdrawn “after it became clear that they were unaffordable”.

But Mrs Justice Laing ruled that the council’s decision to stop consulting was wrong.

Cabinet member for housing Matthew Bennett said: “We are disappointed at this judgement, but we will fully comply with the judge’s decision.

“We will take a report on the proposals back to cabinet as soon as possible, and residents will have their chance to comment on all the options during that process.

“However, we have said previously that full refurbishment of the estate or a significant proportion of the estate is currently unaffordable within the constraints of the Housing Revenue Account.

“After detailed work with residents and experts the council concluded in February 2015 that refurbishment was unaffordable and that to continue to consult on something that could not be delivered would be misleading to residents.”

The council said it will hold more meetings with residents in order to discuss the best way of securing lasting improvements for Cressingham Gardens.

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