Ultimately there is no shocking big issue with the regeneration of South Acton estate. In fact, parts of South Acton estate such as the redbrick estate are in dire need of high-level intervention to prove the quality of life for the residents. This is only viable in the form of demolition and rebuilding newer blocks. This regeneration does have a few issues to contend with such as the high demand of 3 to 4 bedroom units needed for the social housing sector. The requirements for this is to create larger homes for prices similar to what they had in their council homes. Another issue is the conversion of Social Rented housing into Affordable Rent housing, as policy, the difference between Social Rented and Affordable Rented is at maximum a 30 percent increase in rent (as Social Rented is 50 percent of the local market at max and Affordable Rent is 80 percent).
However, in previous phases such as phases, 3.1 and 3.2 (which saw an increase in Affordable Housing units in comparison to other Acton Gardens phases) affordable units were measured on the target rent level, meaning similar to their council; Social Rented levels. The figures saw an increase in their rent with a soft impact specifically for 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom families.
So how many of Charles Hocking House’s residents moved to the newer blocks? Well, unfortunately, I will probably never know for sure due to numerous issues like the paranoia of the ex-residents of me attaining their tenure status even though it is purchasable by default by the government. But in totality, the social renters of Charles Hocking House (a 100 home block with a substantial amount of social renters coupled with leaseholders/freeholders) have 29 units available to them in phase 3.1. Is this a like-for-like base for them? Possibly not, possibly so. I for one do know that only 1 Charles Hocking House ex-resident resides in phase 3.2. Meaning that there is possibly 30 social renter Charles Hocking House ex-residents in the new buildings.
At a larger lens, South Acton’s families specifically ones with the need of 2 bedrooms (in regards to my family as a case study) would have to make major cutbacks to their income for rent in the conversion of Social Rented units to Affordable Rent units. The head of the regeneration office in the Council in regards to Acton Gardens has said that the majority of the affordable housing in the newer Acton Gardens estate will be at a social rent level, but to what degree will this similarity lay? As the target rent is formulated by the combination of inflating figures such as land value, is this an increasing figure? Is this something that will worsen for the social renters of South Acton? As ignorant as I am about housing, I find the jargon of housing to be almost purposefully confusing, quote-unquote affordable rent.
Furthermore, even with the higher densities of the recent proposals of 3000 homes in the estate area, half of this will be quote-unquote affordable, which in turn is mixed with three main categories; shared ownership/intermediate rent, affordable rent and social rented. Another question arises, is this a malicious consequence of government? Yes, as recent policies require a relinquishing of social rented hotspots like sink estates like South Acton estate to create a mixed community that reflects a disenfranchised arena of poor, rich, poor, rich. This, in turn, worries me about the possibility of consumer-based businesses following the money of economically sustaining individuals in the retail allotments, creating a gentrification of unaffordability for social renters to consider living in South Acton for long. A slow, free and somewhat dilapidated social setting is what is truly livable for my socio-economic bracket. At it’s time we all social renters understand that.