A stand-off has developed between the developers of the ‘New Bermondsey’ project around Millwall’s stadium and local artists upset with attempts to buy their homes.
Developers Renewal hope that the scheme will provide 2,400 homes and 2,000 jobs for the area, as well as a new Overground station on the East London Line.
However, they are facing furious opposition from a group of artists who live and work at the location of the planned site.
They claim they are being forced out with ‘derisory’ purchase offers from Renewal, and are taking a stand.
Gabriella Kardos, resident at the 1930s, art deco-style Rollins House, told the News: “The methods being used by these people are unbelievable. It’s ‘divide and conquer.’ They are using bullying tactics, and want to throw out the home-grown artists.”
Gabriella said that she had been offered “very low offers” for her property that are well below what she deemed acceptable, and she called the independent evaluator responsible for coming up with the figure “a joke.”
Another artist, Willow Winston, agreed, and said that the whole situation had badly affected her well-being.
She said: “I have been offered absolutely derisory amounts. This is Zone 2, London! There wasn’t a day that I wasn’t filled with dread and I became quite ill due to the stress.”
However, Renewal have completely rejected these accusations and said that the artists were offered what were deemed market value prices by a completely neutral and objective evaluator.
A spokesperson said: “We have been in ongoing discussions to find an agreeable settlement with all three remaining owners since 2011. We have held numerous meetings, responded to all requests for information, offered assistance in locating alternative properties and discussed the option of them being relocated in the new development.”
As well as that, the spokesperson said Renewal “understand and support the local area’s distinct cultural identity.” They recently created 45 artist studios in the nearby Guild House, with more “creative spaces for artists and businesses” planned after the redevelopment of the disputed properties.
For the artists, however, this is not good enough.
Willow said: “I’m here, I’m fighting and I will continue to fight.”