Residents of the historic Guinness Court housing block in Snowsfields have launched a petition calling for an end to “disgraceful” potential plans to build luxury penthouses on top of the existing flats.
A protest meeting was held last Friday by the angry tenants, who slammed the Guinness Partnership developers for a lack of communication about the plans for the social housing block, built in 1897.
Maria Lanzalarco, the ex-chair of the block’s tenants’ association, said at the meeting: “We all get a letter when we’re not allowed to have a doormat anymore, but now that we have a big issue we don’t get one. It’s an absolute crock. It’s disgraceful.”
Only a handful of tenants had received notice of the feasibility study by the time of the meeting, although the Guinness Partnership has since sent out letters to all residents.
Present at the meeting were Cllr Lucas Green – who organised the gathering – and Cllr Ben Johnson, who both called on Guinness to show clearer communication and sensitivity to the worried residents.
“It’s always worrying when rumours circulate about possible redevelopment without any firm facts,” said Cllr Green.
“As soon as I heard about the rumours myself, I set up the public meeting and it was fantastic to see such a good turnout in response. This is an excellent time for the residents to be grouping together to make sure they get the best possible outcome.”
Cllr Johnson added: “The idea of a luxury penthouse being built on top of this historic social housing is appalling. Guinness needs to be clear what their plans are and involve the community in any redevelopment.”
Residents agreed to re-form the defunct tenants’ association at the meeting and also signed a petition against the plans.
A spokesperson for the Guinness Partnership said: “As part of our commitment to provide as many high quality affordable homes as possible, we are in the very early stages of exploring whether we could build more homes at Guinness Court, Snowsfields.”
Despite questioning from the News, Guinness could not confirm that the homes would be affordable rather than private. The spokesperson added: “We have commissioned a feasibility study to look at possible options and have written to residents to let them know. If we do decide to progress with any proposals, we will of course fully consult local residents and councillors and listen to their views.”