Key officer in council’s drive to deliver 11,000 new social homes announces departure

The London Borough of Southwark has announced that its director of housing and modernisation is set to leave after seven years in post.

Gerri Scott has played a key role at the south London borough at a time when work on two major estate-redevelopment programmes – the Heygate and Aylesbury estates – have proved controversial, and when a commitment to deliver 11,000 new council homes has been made.

Scott has also had a central role in dealing with the aftermath of 2009’s Lakanal House fire in Camberwell, in which six people died; and in the fallout from June’s Grenfell Tower fire in west London, which has revealed issues with the structural integrity of buildings on Peckham’s Ledbury Estate.

Announcing her departure, Scott said she planned to leave the authority at the end of December with the intention of starting her own business.

A statement from Southwark said Scott intended to “oversee the conclusion of various important projects”, including putting a long-term plan for Ledbury residents in place, ahead of the handover to her successor.

Council leader Peter John said Scott had “coped brilliantly” with every challenge the authority had set her, including making every council home warm, dry and safe, and improving the borough’s repairs service for residents.

“Her handling of the events of recent months since the Grenfell tragedy, challenging assumptions and reassuring residents, has been exemplary,” he said. “I will miss her hugely.”

Southwark currently has 54,000 council homes, the largest count of any London borough, and it recently committed to building a further 11,000 by 2043.

However it has also caught flack for the regeneration of the Heygate Estate and the deal it entered into with developer Lendlease to progress the £2bn scheme masterplanned by Make Architects, particularly in relation to the proportion of affordable housing it is providing.

More recently, the borough’s request for compulsory purchase powers over leasehold properties on the Aylesbury Estate was rejected by communities secretary Sajid Javid, only to be successfully challenged.

A new inquiry into the council’s request for CPO powers to acquire the homes it needs for part of the regeneration project is due to commence early next year.