West Hendon Public Inquiry – Press Release

Barnet housing activists, residents and tenants of the West Hendon Estate welcomed the attendees of the public inquiry with a 60ft banner reading PUBLIC HOUSING NOT PRIVATE PROFIT.

The second public inquiry was called in relation to compulsory purchase orders (CPO) of flats in the 2nd phase of the Estate’s regeneration. This ‘regeneration’ has seen the local community dispersed and most of its council tenants and leaseholders evicted, in favour of new well off residents who can afford to purchase the luxury flats built instead of the much needed council homes.

The land of this vast housing estate, overlooking the beautiful Welsh Harp reservoir, belonged to Barnet residents as a public asset until it was sold by Barnet Council to Barratt Ltd and Metropolitan housing association for development in a sham sale for only £3!

Residents have led a persistent campaign to defend their homes and community from demolition and retain the public land, but Barnet Council refused to listen to its own residents, ignored the previous inquiry and opted for dissemination of the community and for social cleansing.

Jasmin Parsons, one of the estate’s residents and lead campaigners represented in the current public inquiry, the objections of over 20 of her neighbours.

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Notes to the editor: Details of first public Inquiry: http://west-hendon.co.uk/planning/cpo1-public-inquiry/
Documentary :’The estate we are in’ https://youtu.be/Usa4-W-Bcu0.
For further info contact: …barnethousingaction@hotmail.com
@BarnetHaction

ESTATE REGENERATION – MAYOR’S CONSULTATION – OUR RESPONSE

To the Mayor of London

Residents and community activists have worked together to formulate a detailed reply to your consultation Homes for London, ‘Good Practice Guide To Estate Regeneration ‘and we would like to ensure that it is documented by the mayor and City Hall that the following campaigns  have contributed to the attached written response.

  • Our West Hendon
  • Barnet Housing action group
  • Barnet Momentum Housing Group
  • Barnet Alliance for Public Services
  • Our Grahame Park
  • Dollis valley Housing Action
  • Our Whitefields Estate

This is our response: v2 Homes for Londoners (Barnet Haction) (1)

For reference – here is the link to the Mayor’s proposal

We released the following statement to the press on the subject:

“We’d like to firstly thank the Mayor of London, for opening up the much needed debate on London Estate regeneration.  This consultation has given us an opportunity to highlight the iniquitous outcomes that have arisen from many  estate regenerations across London, and expose the truth that numerous estate regenerations have in reality resulted in families losing their homes. (Over 300 in West Hendon alone).

It was disappointing to see that the  democratic voice promised by the Mayor of London in his manifesto not only disappeared from the consultation, it went on to describe such ballots as being too “complex” and binary.   Does he really think that those residing on council estate are not able to grasp the arguments for estate regeneration?  We have seen over the last 5-10 years developers rampaging across our great city with no consideration for existing communities and London’s great heritage.

It is crucial that the Mayor gives residents in every estate facing regeneration a democratic vote without exception. This is not just a council estate issue now, the question here is who really does run London.”
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Tweet from March 2016 during the London Mayoral Campaign

 

Facts & Figures on Housing in Barnet – obtained via the Freedom of Information Act

RIGHT TO BUY SALES OF COUNCIL HOUSES:

We asked how many council houses had been sold in each of the previous 5 years, and what monies had been received & what discounts had been given.

This was the raw data that was provided:

Year  Total capital receipts  Total discount Properties
sold
2010-11  £               669,500.00  £                   64,000.00 4
2011-12  £            1,446,000.00  £                  112,000.00 7
2012-13  £            4,643,550.00  £               2,517,450.00 34
2013-14  £          12,503,865.00  £             9,996,685.00 103
2014-15  £          16,661,842.80  £             12,178,907.20 123
Totals  £ 35,924,757.80  £ 24,869,042.20 271

So, as you can see, a total of 271 council properties were sold off in the last 5 years, with a total of £36m capital receipts and £25m worth of discounts given.

The right to buy scheme has been heavily promoted in recent years, and this is borne out by a ramping up of the numbers sold, from 4 in 2010/11 to 123 in 2014/15.

When you take a look at the average figures underlying the totals, the discounts given in 2010/11 averaged £16k per house, or 9% of the total value, rising to £99k per house or 44% of the total value in later years.

For all the damage that Thatcher’s legacy of the infamous Right to Buy has caused, on it goes, relentlessly. 40% of ex-council houses ending up in the hands of private landlords. Many of these now sprouting extra bedrooms via unusual conversions where once were well balanced, spacious, solid, sound family homes. A number of Sweets Way residents are now residing in such properties with rent in the region of £1,500 pcm. One (former 2 bed) maisonette has had the living room partitioned in two directly across the centre of the window creating two inadequately sized bedrooms and unbalancing the house such that it does not function for the family of four (with 2 teenage children) who now occupy it. In another, the kitchen had been divided to create a shower room, and the bathroom turned into a third bedroom. This landlord told us, “Oh, the fridge, yes, that’s down the hall [in the airing cupboard]”….as the new kitchen was unable to fit all the usual appliances you might expect in a kitchen – but think of all that extra income he’ll be earning from his extra bedroom. Never mind those who have to suffer the cramped & unsuitable living conditions. Another, a 2 bed maisonette, former council property, now owned by Notting Hill Housing Association is being rented out at £345/week….THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE POUNDS PER WEEK, and that’s supposed to be “affordable”.

Some clever little charts for your interest: Analysis of Right to Buy sales (be even more clever if I could manage to insert decent pictures of them!)

Average value, discount,and discounted sales price per council house sold in Barnet under the Right to Buy scheme in the last 5 years:

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Notice how the discounts goes up and up and the capital receipts go down and down. It’s a bargain! – yeh, but who for….

Discounts as a % of the gross value of council houses sold under the Right to buy scheme in Barnet in the last 5 years:

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Less than 10% discount offered in 2010-2012, ramping up to 44% discount in 2013-14

Capital receipts from the sales of Council Houses under the right to buy scheme in Barnet, and discounts given:

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Sell, sell, sell

Number of council houses sold…..sell sell sell!

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Now to ask them what they spent the £36m on, because it certainly isn’t 271 new replacement council houses!

Bringing Homelessness Home, Round Two: Tom Davey, Head of Social Cleansing

sweets way resists

We paid a surprise visit to the home of Tom Davey this morning, Barnet’s ‘Head of Social Cleansing,’ coinciding with the Independent’s new report that 50,000 families have been socially cleansed from London in the last three years.

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The other day we pitched up a series of tents and umbrellas in the front garden of Richard Cornelius’ house, the leader of Barnet Council and ward councillor for Sweets Way. We wanted to bring homelessness home to one of the individuals most responsible for the decision to demolish 150 good family homes on our estate.

This morning, as the Independent leaked figures from London Councils that over the last three years, 50,000 homeless families had been forced-out of London by local authorities, we showed up at the home of Barnet councillor and Chair of Barnet’s Housing Committee, Tom Davey, to send a message about what his housing policy is doing…

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They forgot that we were seeds…

sweets way resists

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On Friday we paid another visit to Annington Properties at their 1 James Street address in Central London (feel free to pop by and let them know what you think of their plans, by the way). Given the events of the last couple of weeks, it felt important to let them know we hadn’t disappeared and were just as committed to challenging their ‘regeneration’ plans as we ever have been.

Accordingly, we rolled up with a coffin covered in flowers, and a giant banner emblazoned with the slogan we have adopted from Mexico: ‘They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.’

We know that everything about our fight is a David and Goliath-uphill battle, since Annington (and parent company Terra Firma) have the backing of Barnet Council, a Tory Cabinet Minister, and billions of pounds in the bank. However, that is not enough to stop us. Annington…

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Bringing homelessness home… Round One

sweets way resists

Photo by Jen Wilton (@GuerillaGrrl) Photo by Jen Wilton (@GuerillaGrrl)

A week under threat of brutal eviction by high court bailiffs is bound to put most people into a pretty bad state… but it will take more than high court bailiffs to silence the Sweets Way community!

It was a week ago on Friday that Annington Properties had everyone left on the estate’s possession orders moved from County Court to High Court bailiffs. This meant that as of Monday morning, families were facing the prospect of goons kicking in their front doors, unannounced, at 6am, leaving them with ten or so minutes to empty all of their belongings into the street. Luckily, this didn’t transpire, though it did set-off a real panic amongst the remaining families at Sweets Way. In the panic, we all headed to Barnet Homes and demanded immediate rehousing. What families got varied considerably, and continued the pattern of people being…

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