Southwark Council has won the right to a judicial review of its attempts to compulsorily purchase leaseholders out of Phase One of the Aylesbury Estate.
Since September Southwark has been engaged in a legal battle with the government’s secretary of state for communities and local government, Sajid Javid, on whether it can legally buy-out eight remaining leaseholders.
The council urgently wants four Aylesbury blocks Chartridge, Chiltern, Arklow and Bradenham to be emptied, so that it can give them to Notting Hill Housing to be demolished and redeveloped. It has already begun demolishing Phase Two of the estate where leaseholder do not stand in their way.
At an oral hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice today, His Honour Judge Collins gave Southwark the right to its judicial review. The council will now attempt to have Mr Javid’s decision to block the compulsory purchase order (CPO) overruled.
Mr Javid previously denied permission for the CPO on the grounds that it would “contravene” leaseholders’ human rights. The leaseholders had been offered compensation of less than £300,000, and some even below £250,000, which would also force them to leave the area to find new homes.
The hearing lasted for one-and-a-half hours, while three barristers took turns to argue on behalf of Southwark Council, the government, and for the leaseholders.
Leaseholders have told the News that while Judge Collins gave a verdict that the council now has “arguable” grounds for its case, he also made remarks in support of the leaseholders.
The judge was quoted as saying the leaseholders’ situation should be “ameliorated” (or made better) and that this “should be done immediately”.
Commenting on the outcome of today’s hearing, councillor Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “This is a positive step for the council and the hundreds of residents who want to see major improvements on the Aylesbury estate.
“We still have some way to go, but I am pleased that we now have the opportunity to remake our case and challenge the government’s refusal to permit a CPO that would allow us to build 800 new homes, including hundreds at social rent as well as extra care homes for some of our most vulnerable residents.”
One leaseholder, Judi Bos, told the News: “After reading the council’s skeleton arguments before the hearing, I thought we had a problem.
“It’s disappointing. If we had won today the council would have had to negotiate with us for better deals. But this just delays it. Now they have another excuse not to negotiate with us.”
Judge Collins also said in the hearing that the forthcoming judicial review would be settled before the end of the legal term, which is understood to be early April.
Southwark will now have 35 days to present their full case ahead of the judicial review.
The four blocks in Phase One of the estate have already been emptied of 442 tenants and 33 other leaseholders. The plans for regenerating Phase One show some 800 homes will be built instead.
The council aims to eventually redevelop the entire 1960s estate with 3,500 homes in total, 50 per cent of which will be at “affordable” homes, the rest will be for sale.
Housing campaigners from the 35% Campaign are crowdfunding to pay for a barrister to represent the leaseholders in the upcoming hearing.
They have so far raised £5,800 of their £7,000 target.
Visit www.gofundme.com/aylesbury-the-right-to-a-community-2uefgf2s to make a pledge.