Southwark Council issue Compulsory Purchase OrderS to HEYGATE LEASEHOLDERS

It’s been a long time coming for the remaining Heygate leaseholders who have been living amongst 1100 empty and welded-shut flats for a very long time now. This week the Council instead of making them a decent offer (which would really only amount to a fraction of the money wasted so far on years of on-site security, lighting bills, graffiti and rubbish removal) and finally served Compulsory Purchase Orders on the leaseholders. We would like to come back to the use of CPO’s later on and especially the despicable and shabby treatment on Aylesbury of the elderly Wolverton block tenants. Today however we just want to extend our best wishes and support for the Heygate folks and wish them all the best in their last stand to be treated with respect and with common sense by The Council.

15th August 2012 Press Statement: Heygate Leaseholders Group

“Despite being situated just a few hundred yards from a zone 1 tube station, we are currently only being offered around half the Borough average price per sq. ft for our homes. The Compulsory Purchase Order will result in us being dispossessed of our homes and permanently priced out of central London.
We will be exercising our right to object to the Order on the grounds that we are being dispossessed by proposals which are not in the public interest: the new development is proposing no social rented housing or renewable energy provision. It will see road traffic prioritised, the loss of over 300 trees and the creation of a private gated high-rise citadel.

The 1200 homes here on the Heygate were truly affordable to local people. The 2500 luxury new homes set to replace them will cost upwards of £500,000 to buy, and if there are any new ‘affordable’ homes provided then the most affordable of these will likely cost around £275 per week to rent.

This regeneration scheme was conceived on the premise of creating a more ‘mixed community’. In reality what we are seeing is state-sponsored segregation: the large-scale displacement of those on lower incomes by high earners and overseas buy-to-let investors. The new homes provided by the development will be available only to those who are wealthy enough to buy, or if there are any new ‘affordable’ homes on the site then they will only be available to those who qualify for full state housing benefits. This will create a far more segregated community and a poverty trap for those on benefits who will have difficulty finding employment which pays enough to cover the significantly higher rents.

The E&C is currently home to a number of stalled development schemes including the London Park Hotel and the Tribeca Square sites comprising around ten acres of what is currently wasteland. In its desperation to fulfil its manifesto pledge of getting something built on the Heygate site, the council’s administration has entirely disregarded the existing community and also its own commercial interests as landowner. It will be disposing of the Heygate site at a considerable loss to its balance sheet: the capital sums it is due to receive from the developer will not fully cover the costs it has incurred in decanting and demolishing the estate.

We would also like to point out that our right to object is a privilege that other residents on the estate were not given: tenants had no legal right to object at all – those who did object were evicted under the Landlord & Tenant Act and have long since been displaced to poorer parts of the Borough. A long-standing community has been destroyed.

We are not lone voices of discontent: our objections are being supported by a local residents group who have launched a campaign to object to the proposals and hold developer Lend Lease to council policy on a number of points including the minimum affordable housing requirement: www.35percent.org

More detailed background information about the regeneration scheme and its controversial proposals can be found on the 35% campaign website: www.35percent.org

Heygate Leaseholders Group

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