Barnet Borough Council and developers involved in the West Hendon Estate regeneration were accused of “displacing a whole community”.

A public inquiry, into the authority’s use of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) in the regeneration scheme, which will order people to sell their homes to make way for 2,000 new flats, started today at the Brent Cross Holiday Inn.

Developer Barratt Metropolitan and the council said that the purchase orders were necessary as it was “unlikely” they would acquire the properties “within a reasonable timescale” otherwise.

They also said that benefits brought by the regeneration were critical not only to the estate, but to West Hendon more generally.

Giving evidence, Martin Cowie, assistant director of strategic planning, regeneration and transport at Barnet Council, said the CPOs were in the public interest, and that the area would benefit from additional spending power from people moving into the new homes.

Kalim Khalick, a leaseholder on the estate, questioned the economic benefits the scheme would bring, adding: “There aren’t enough jobs already. Shifting in another 1,500 families is going to decrease the chances of people in the local area getting jobs, and that’s my concern.”

West Hendon councillor Devra Kay asked how long it would take for the new schools and health facilities to be ready, which are due to be provided as part of the scheme, and questioned whether the fact no secure tenancies had been given to people on the estate since the 2002 ballot was planned.

Mr Cowie said that there was a legal obligation for the facilities to be delivered, although he was unsure of the dates, and said it was unfortunate the regeneration had taken so long, which had made “the process very challenging.”

Jackie Coleman, who lives in Tyrell Way on the estate, said: “You are displacing a whole community. You make it like you are building for us, but it’s for the private sector.

“It’s not fair. When we signed that pledge, it was like for like. All of a sudden I have lost all my neighbours. Yes, it’s going to be beautiful, but no one I know will live there. The social landscape will have changed.”

Mr Cowie said the regeneration would benefit the community, and that the estate’s current condition “is not sustainable” looking 50 years ahead.

Speaking on behalf of tenants, Dan Knowles of consultants Sawyer Fielding, questioned whether a more recent ballot would have achieved the same result as the one in 2002, which showed 75 per cent of people were in favour of redevelopment and which was being used as “justification of residents being in favour of the scheme.”

Some of the original promises made to the tenants have now been dropped – including rehousing everyone on the same site - something the council and developers said changed because of the “drastic and unforeseen economic downturn of the late 2000s”.

Mr Knowles added: “Considering the scheme contained a number of pledges no longer on offer, and approximately three times as many new build properties, would it be fair to suggest public opinion would not be in the council’s favour?”

Mr Cowie replied: “Most of the pledges remain the same and will be met.”

The inquiry is set to continue at 10am tomorrow morning in Hendon Town Hall, and will last until next Friday.