In tonight’s full council meeting I asked the Conservative Barnet Housing Committee Chairman two almost identical simple questions.
These questions are the same, with the only change being the title of the estate in question. West Hendon is being redeveloped by Metropolitan Housing Trust and Grahame Park is being redeveloped Genesis Housing.
Last year the Chief Executive of Genesis indicated that the housing association would seek to deregister as a social landlord and would rent out vacant social units at full market rate. In Barnet, myself and Labour councillors have been asking the authority what this means for the boroughs so called flagship ‘regeneration’ of the Grahame Park estate – being developed by Genesis. I had received little answer to my query.
In the answers to my question, they are almost as identical as the questions, with the exception of one word. The words included in the West Hendon answer are ‘social rented’ and the word missing in the Grahame Park answer is ‘social’. If this is accurate it means that the people of Barnet and councillors have been sold a complete lie about the regeneration of the Grahame Park estate. Throughout the process, councillors and members of the public have been assured that in return for regenerating the estate, they will be receiving 1000 new social homes as replacement. This answer shows that these 1000 homes are temporary social homes, that will be used for one generation before being returned to Genesis to be re-marketed as private full market sector housing.
Barnet will have lost tens of millions of pounds in assets and perhaps more in social rent, with very limited social return, which undermines the entire business case presented for regenerating the estate in question.
Getting to the truth on what has gone on with the Grahame Park estate is now urgent.