Housing association planning demolitions only ‘pretending’ to listen

Residents of Northwold Estate in Hackney slammed consultations held this week over a plan to demolish the homes of up to 154 people — around a quarter of the homes on the estate — as “deliberately confusing and vague.”

The Guinness Partnership, the housing association that owns the estate, held consultations on Friday and Saturday, where residents could speak to representatives from the association individually.

Some locals were unhappy with the consultation. Emily Jost, who organized the Save Northwold E5 campaign to prevent demolitions, accused Guinness of being “deliberately confusing.”

“None of the information tells you anything,” she told me. “Everyone is baffled.”

Because the current plans are largely hypothetical, residents do not know for sure who will lose their homes, what will happen to them during demolition, or whether they will be able to afford the new homes.

Adrian Mitchell, senior development manager at Guinness, insisted that it was too early in the process to get into those specifics, and defended the consultation. “Our aim was to explain to as many residents as possible what our plans are, and to get them involved in the process from an early stage.”

In July, Guinness informed residents that they were looking at three options for the redevelopment of the estate: infill (building homes in spare space), partial demolition and redevelopment, and full demolition and redevelopment.

Last month, Guinness distributed a leaflet announcing that they had opted for partial demolition and redevelopment, claiming that this was the result of feedback they had received from residents.

Jost added:

“I think they presented the three so that we would all be worried about full development and therefore relieved when partial was announced.”
“Their plan was already in place when we got our first letter in July — their choice of partial in no way reflects the outcome of the consultation, so they gave us all a stressful summer in order to pretend they are listening to us.”

Derek Mcvee, a member of Northwold’s Tenants’ Residents Association board, disagreed with Jost’s assessment, calling the consultation “very straightforward.” However, when I asked, he said he did not know if Guinness had taken residents’ feedback into account.

Save Northwold E5 has gathered around 75 signatures from people on the estate interested in getting involved in the campaign.