Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Liverpool residents seek compensation over devalued homes

Abandoned pathfinder tenants take legal action

Residents left abandoned in half-finished housing market renewal schemes are preparing to launch compensation claims against their council.

The 600-member Salisbury Residents’ Association in Liverpool is preparing to serve the city’s council with ‘blight notices’, which can force authorities to buy homes devalued by regeneration work.

Barry Denyer-Green of Falcon Chambers, a leading barrister in the field who is a former chair of the British Compulsory Purchase Association but is not involved in this case, indicated more legal action could follow because there was a case to answer.

‘Owners or tenants of at least three years have to show that they can’t sell or have to sell [their home] at a substantially lower price [than if there was no blight],’ he added. ‘The land has got to be blighted in a legally technical sense, intended for compulsory purchase or some other project.’

Around 30 authorities have been left to manage the half-finished regeneration work of the 10 pathfinder organisations which were set up by Labour in 2002. The £2.3 billion HMR programme had been due to run until 2018 but was axed by the coalition government in last year’s spending review. A £30 million ‘lifeline’ has since been announced for the worst affected areas, including Liverpool.

Ros Groves, chair of the Salisbury Residents’ Association, said almost £50,000 had been wiped from the value of her four-bedroom house.

‘We have kids in schools. Ask them to draw a house and they will draw you a house with boarded up windows,’ she told a hearing of the communities and local government committee on Monday. ‘For me, that is criminal.’

Residents turned to legal action after the council decided to exclude the 600 homes in Liverpool’s Anfield area from its bid for a share of the government’s £30 million rescue fund. ‘I don’t blame the city council,’ Ms Groves added. ‘It didn’t pull the funding, but at the end of the day people are going to be absolutely devastated.’

Chris Brown, chief executive at Manchester-based developer Igloo, told the committee that regeneration projects across the country were being mothballed because public funding had dried up.

Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing at Liverpool Council, said it was exploring other sources of funding to help address residents’ concerns. ‘We do not consider that blight claims will be successful,’ she added.


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