Zac Goldsmith believes he has an "ethical obligation" to demolish London's council estates, he said last night.
The Conservative candidate for mayor told a hustings organised by the property industry charity Land Aid that the city's post-war era housing estates are "past their use-by date" and must be "regenerated" in order to tackle London's housing crisis.
He pointed to research by the estate agents Savills, which suggests that as many as 360,000 additional homes could be built on land currently housing local authority estates.
Under Savills' plans, existing estates would be replaced with higher density "terraced housing and mid-rise mansion blocks".
A large number of estate regenerations are already in progress across London and have already proven controversial. City Hall figures, obtained by the Green party on the London Assembly, reveal that following the completion of estate regeneration schemes currently in progress, or being planned, there will be an overall loss of more than 7,000 social rented homes across London.
In Kidbrooke, South East London, where the local Labour council and London mayor authorised the demolition of the Ferrier estate, residents claim they were bullied out of their homes without being offered suitable alternative accommodation. In one case, a disabled elderly couple spoke out after being offered a "tin roofed shack" to live in while regeneration took place. The length of the 'regeneration' programme means that many of the original residents have not been able to return to the new estate.
However, Goldsmith insists that any future regeneration would be done "properly" under his mayoralty.
"I have committed to ensuring in the London plan that no-one on existing estates will be moved off unless [the existing community give their approval]." He insisted that "no-one will be required to pay a higher level of rent than they are now."
He attacked his Labour rival for refusing to sign up to his "ethical" plans.
"It seems extraordinary that other candidates [like] Sadiq Khan have flatly ruled it out. Not a single argument for improving conditions. It seems like an ethical obligation [to regenerate the estates]."
Candidates were also asked what they would do to tackle the large number of new homes that are sold directly to foreign investors, before being offered to Londoners.
Goldsmith said he would like a significant mandatory waiting period before homes could be advertised abroad. However, he came under fire from Khan on the issue.
The Conservative candidate reportedly bought properties in the UK via an offshore company based in the Cayman Islands. In a thinly veiled dig at Goldsmith, Khan said that: "people shouldn't be using offshore companies to buy property [here]. London is the world's capital for laundering money and there is no excuse for buying property through an offshore company either."