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21 April 2011
If the start of demolition of the Heygate last week is going to mark the start of yet another brave new world for the Elephant and Castle, then the council should have the courage to give those last few remaining residents a fair deal.
It is absurd that we have camera crews filming the demolition of one of London’s largest estates, yet in the shadows lurk residents that still occupy eleven homes.
Why are they still there? Who in their right mind would want to live in this now empty and partly demolished monolithic estate, that even when fully occupied was a haven for muggers?
The answer is no one. These residents are certainly not here by choice. The majority of them are leaseholders that are refusing to leave until they get a fair price for the home.
The council is offering them £150,000 to £168,000 for properties, many of which are three bedrooms, arguing that this is the market value. However, council officers are using information from 1998/99 and are comparing them with homes on the neighbouring Aylesbury estate, which is also up for demolition.
The fact is, that these people brought the properties, which are just 37 years old, not expecting them to be demolished. They will not be able to continue to live in the area or in London if they are not given a realistic price for the homes they are being thrown out of.
These are not high end homes, the leaseholders are not expecting anything like the price that the new homes replacing the Heygate will fetch. In our article we highlight that a two bedroom ex-authority flat on the neighbouring Rockingham Estate is on sale for £215,000. A leaseholder told our reporter that he was being offered £168,000 for this three-bedroom property, but his own surveyor valued it at £230,000 - £62,000 difference.
This is a lot of cash to someone like Adrian Glasspool, a 36-year-old teacher, who wants to be working in our schools and so should be able to live in the area. It is not a lot of money in the grand scheme of the £1.5 billion being spent on the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle.
If the council were to give £62,000 extra to each of the eight to nine leaseholders holding out for a better deal, than well over half a million pounds would have to be found. Many of the new properties would easily fetch this price, on their own.
Moreover, as we have shown in the paper this week (see page 8 – ‘High Court Judge condemns council’s £2.7m legal action’) legal costs and court costs are so extortionate that just as much or more can be spent fighting claims.
There is no doubt that Southwark taxpayers do not want to be giving money to lawyers over fellow residents that in recent years have had to live in sub-standard conditions as little work has been done on their condemned blocks.
But, the real point here is that as the council plans to regenerate more and more of its ageing stock they are desperately worried that setting a precedent on market values on the Heygate Estate, will mean other projects will be hit.
It is a balancing act, if this council is committed to creating brave new worlds across the length and breadth of the borough they should have the courage to set this precedent. After all the whole point of regeneration is improve the lot for residents and that includes being fair to leaseholders.
Agree or disagree?
Let us know what you think!
1. At 03:55 PM on 06 May 2011, T Fuente wrote:
So, the premise here is that each of the people who are refusing to leave the Heygate should be given the full market value for their properties. I say fair enough. Oh but hang on, I never got the chance to live in a council flat, I had to rent privately, and save for over 10 years to get a deposit for a mortgage whilst subsidising their low cost housing through taxes. I say give them the market value but then claim back the difference of the life of their subsidised rents and the discount they received when the bought from the council. Then use this money to build more council houses. Simple.
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2. At 10:51 PM on 18 May 2011, Adrian Glasspool wrote:
T, I bought my home here on the Heygate on the open market. I never got the chance to live in a council flat either. I also previously had to rent privately and save for a mortgage. Had I bought a property anywhere else in the borough, then I would be better off now. Simple.
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RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
PROVIDENCE SQUARE SE1, £1,600,000 , For Sale