Southwark Council has apologised to Aylesbury Estate leaseholders who received a letter saying the council wanted to compulsory purchase their homes just one before a public meeting to discuss it.
Suggestions to use a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on three leaseholders’ flats in Northchurch were discussed at a Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday.
But the three leaseholders in Northchurch, a 20-home block beside Dawes Street, only received letters from Southwark’s planning officers on Monday.
Although their letters only arrived a day earlier, the leaseholders were gratefully tipped off about the CPO on their homes by a former Conservative councillor Toby Eckersley.
At the meeting, council leader Peter John asked planning officers: “When would the leaseholders have known about this?”
An officer responded: “They [the letters] were sent last week.”
At which point, leaseholder Felix Badu interrupted: “They only arrived yesterday.”
Cllr John replied: “The fact that they only found out yesterday is not good enough.”
He added: “There’s no nice way of telling you, so we’re sorry you only heard yesterday. I’m sorry about that. That’s not the way we should be doing things… We shouldn’t be sending people letters with second-class stamps the day before.”
It was noted that no final decision was due to be made on Tuesday about the proposed CPO. Cllr John said: “It will go through a separate process, but we need to indicate that’s the direction this is travelling in.”
Felix, 55, told the News: “A one-bed flat in this area is £480,000. I was offered £255,000 by the council in August [in compensation for the CPO] and I live with five children and my wife in a three-bed flat.”
Plans to demolish Northchurch have been linked to a section of the estate, referred to as Plot 18, which includes a fifteen-storey block with 122 homes (46 social rent), a library, medical centre, and a nursery.
Demolishing Northchurch was not included in the Plot 18 plans, and the leaseholders were previously told their block would not be demolished until 2020. But the council now says Northchurch is needed for use as a temporary car park during construction works, and because leaseholders will “face disruption” during Plot 18’s construction.
Elsewhere on the Aylesbury Estate, the council is still locked in a drawn out legal process to gain permission from the government to use a CPO seven leaseholders in the First Development Site (Bradenham, Chartridge, Arklow and Chiltern blocks). A public inquiry into this CPO is due to begin in January.