Friday, 28 November 2014

East London tenants ordered out to make way for £1bn redevelopment

Ousted residents fear homelessness

Residents of a London estate undergoing a controversial £1 billion regeneration programme have been served eviction notices as the council begins the demolition of their homes.

Seventy-eight tenants living on the Ferrier estate in Greenwich were handed notices to seek possession by Greenwich Council on 31 August. The notices said residents must vacate their properties by 4 October, or risk being taken to court.

But members of the local residents’ group said they cannot move out because they have not been offered a suitable alternative home. Many said the homes they had been offered were too small or too far away from their friends and former neighbours.

Members of the Ferrier Residents’ Action Group were worried they would be left homeless, and felt the council had broken its promise not to pressurise them to leave.

Tracey Brown, 39, who has lived on the estate for 20 years said: ‘All the properties available are too small, and I can’t get my furniture in. All my friends and neighbours have gone. If there were any decent properties then I would move, but there aren’t.’

She added: ‘It’s not nice being there on your own. I want a like-for-like property, which we were promised. I work, I pay full rent and taxes, and I can’t afford the higher prices they want to charge for a matchbox.’

The tenants threatened with eviction live in nine areas of the estate. Approximately 300 remaining residents have not been served notices as their properties are not being demolished immediately.

The estate regeneration began in September last year after six years of planning. There are 1,910 homes on the estate, and by August last year, 1,180 were vacated. In the new development, the first phase of which will be completed by 2013 and the whole project by 2025, only 740 homes will be available for rent, with the remainder of the 4,398 homes up for sale.

A council spokesman said its rehousing team was working with the remaining tenants. He said: ‘Those tenants have been served with notices of seeking possession by the council; which ensures that the council will have the right to repossess the properties of tenants who may act unreasonably in refusing suitable offers of alternative accommodation. Repossession would only be used as a last resort.’ He said the rehousing strategy had been developed with tenants to ensure they were offered suitable homes and all would be able to move into social housing.

Regeneration time frame

2002
plans for the regeneration of Kidbrooke approved in April

2004
Greenwich Council begins moving residents out of the estate

2009
demolition work begins

Readers' comments (4)

  • Chris Webb

    Does anyone know if the transferring tenants retain their security of tenure and will have priority to return to the regenerated homes? Other action groups have made these central issues to negotiations and have benefited as a result.

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  • A similar thing is happening at Wornington Green. The tenants there were absolutely guaranteed they would retain the type of tenure they have now ... but as their landlord Kensington Housing Trust can't find appropriate properties they are being moved to other HAs and offered assured shorthold tenancies, or if it's a permanent move Secured Tenancy - which is NOT the same thing though they state that it is!
    All very sad and predictable.
    Councillor Emma Dent Coad
    Golborne Ward, Kensington and Chelsea

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  • Chris Webb

    If the guarantees were in writing then what compensation for breach of promise did you manage to gain from the authority through lobbying or representing the tenant groups?
    If they were not in writing then they were not absolute.
    Did the local Labour Party do anything other than wring hands and write press releases, for instance did you engage the support of the Minister for Housing to intervene to protect the interests of the tenants?

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  • Only One

    Look behind the regeneration of Kidbrooke and you'll find a private developer, with a massive amount of 'kick-start' funding having had the project stalled initially. Now whilst I'm not one to knock the private sector in general, the developers methodology of working in this instance is focussed on profit - pure and simple. They have wrapped LB Greenwich round their finger and will suffer the long term consequences once they have sold off the units and vanished from the scene, leaving others to pick up the pieces. I know. I have previous/current experience of this.

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