- Built in 1980’s – Army Estate – 150 (note 1) 2 storey houses, majority 3 beds, some 4 beds / 2 beds
- Acquired in the late 90’s by Annington Homes, as part of their acquisition of 57k MOD nationwide portfolio
- Leased back to MOD, until no longer required
- For the last 5 years, the estate has been used:1) to house barnet council tenants on temporary / nonsecure tenancies on the estate, 2) mostly in homes leased by Notting Hill Housing Trust, 3) others were rented privately via managing agent Touchstone – at approx £1k/month for a 3 bed home
- 1996 – acquired 57,400 (for 1.67bn – c. £29k per property) army homes – entire MOD property portfolio, to lease back to the MOD until release
- At that point in time became the largest private UK owner of residential property
- Annington Homes was intially set up by Nomura (founded by Guy Hands – ex Goldman Sachs worth over £100 million http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Hands), who subsequently founded Terra Firm who later acquired the portfolio as part of the largest ever European leveraged buyout, paid with a “payment in kind loan structure” with Barclays as a major financial advisor in the transaction.
- IN SHORT GUY HANDS IS BORROWING FROM INVESTORS, INVESTING THEIR MONEY TO MAKE HIMSELF (and them) RICH OFF THE BACKS OF THE PEOPLE EVICTED FROM SWEETS WAY (and others like them)
- LINK TO TERRA FIRMA (WITH SHORT VIDEO ABOUT THE *EXCELLENT* INVESTMENTS OF ANNINGTON HOMES: http://www.terrafirma.com/investment/annington.html
PLANNING APPLICATION HISTORY:
- Application submitted Jan 2014 – included 360 units, 0% affordable – REFUSED
- Application submitted Nov 2014 (see link below) – 288 units (201 houses / 87 flats) – APPROVED by Barnet Council
- Affordable housing in approved application: They say they have achieved 20% (vs the guideline 40%), however, this consists of 56% / 44% split of “affordable rent” and “intermediate housing”.
- So: “Affordable” Rented units total = 33 (or 11% of total development) consisting of 6 x 1 bed, 9 x 2 bed flats, 2 x 2 bed houses, 10 x 3 bed and 4 x 4 bed.
- Intermediate housing (i.e. shared ownnership) = 26 (or 9% of total development) consisting of 12 x 1 bed, 8 x 2 bed flats, 6 x 2 bed houses.
- See section 3.7 on pages 58/59
- Viability study by Deloitte confirms this is max possible whereby the projects remains viable
- 80 PAGE APPROVED PLANNING APPLICATION: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s19944/Land%20between%20Sweets%20Way%20and%20Oakleigh%20Road%20North%20London%20N20%20-%20B0430914.pdf
- Site size = 6.28 hectares, prime location
- 96 trees to be removed from site as part of the development – noted by Annington as “limited tree removal” – original application = 146
- The residents who have lived on the site for the last 5-6 years always knew that their tenure would end, and the site would be redeveloped
- However, they have loved their homes, their community, their schools, and are reliant upon their support networks, local doctors etc
- The houses they live(d) in are decent, solid, well designed homes, and to demolish them is a waste of resources
- None of the people living there over the past 5-6 years will be able to return to what is being built in place of their homes
- No provision was made for the loss of their homes, in terms of arrangements for where they would go
- Many faced eviction with nowhere alternative to go, other than to the council office to declare themselves homeless
- They then faced being passed keys to temporary emergency accommodation in far flung places in sub-standard accommodation and appalling conditions.
- Many face long arduous journeys to attend work, school and other commitments. For some it is no longer feasible to get to work
- Some private sector tenants have managed to find alternative accommodation: One family has moved to Hatfield, borrowed £3k from pensioner parent for rent deposit, is now paying £200 extra in rent per month and facing additional travel costs/time. This is someone who works in the NHS.
- Some were given offers of homes in the private sector in places as far away as birmingham.
- Many claim housing officers did not explain to them properly their rights, obligations and the implications in terms of acceptance / rejection of offers of unsuitable accommodation, resulting in some being discharged from duty to be housed. Little or no assistance provided in respect of language barriers. (A solicitor now involved is challenging the legality of the latest eviction notice served by Barnet Homes)
- Many have multiple health issues and disabilities
- Many faced extortionate costs of storage / removals with assistance refused in some cases
- Others left belongings in houses, on the agreement that they had 7 days to return by appointment to collect their stuff, only to find their homes cleared out and stripped already
- Some have been temporary nonsecure tenants for 16 years.
- One family – the father has been hospitalised due to the mental stress of the situation, the mother is working part time in North Finchley, was housed at the 11th hour in emergency temporary accommodation in a house which the front door did not lock, in Ponders End. 3 buses required to get to and from work. Her children attend East Barnet school are needing to get up at 5 am in order to ensure they get to school on time. Her eloquent, beautiful 13 year old daughter has been wetting the bed with the stress brought on my this.
- Those that remain onsite are living in an apocalyptic ghost town, with opportunists scouting around for any worthwhile belongings, groups of youths wandering around seeking out quiet corners to loiter & smoke drugs
ACTION TO DATE:
- Alerted to the situation by residents facing eviction via Facebook / Twitter contact to Barnet Housing Action Group – 11th Feb 2015
- Visited Sweets Way 12th Feb 2015 – spoke to residents to try to find out more / contacted person scheduled for eviction to see if we could assist
- Attended Sweets Way 13th Feb, witnessed and recorded evictions by High Court bailiffs
- 16th (& 17th) Feb 2015 – call out to local / London wide activists to attend Sweets Way for eviction resistance (or whatever assistance we could provide to residents)
- Footage from the days – focussing on the impact to the children: http://youtu.be/hyeD-x-uDCA
- Residents at the lowest ebb were buoyed by our presence and the fact that they weren’t completely forgotten and some people DO care
- Bailiffs arrived, but departed presumably due to the numbers / cameras present
- We marched to Barnet House, who refused us entry and locked the doors
- Housing officers agreed to speak with 2 representatives and a witness, and made promises that have not been fulfilled.
- That afternoon BHAG supported residents in meetings with the council
- BHAG liaised with Labours Housing representative in meeting with top Housing Officers from Barnet Homes, putting forward suggestions for solutions to the crisis that had emerged. One homeless family who had been discharged now rehoused. However, minimal feedback / follow up from Barnet Homes since
- 21st Feb 2015 – attended local Councillors Surgery with residents – of 3 councillors, 2 attended and 1 was late. Richard Cornelius (Leader of Barnet Council) and Allison Cornelius said they had not attended Sweets Way, or was there anything they could really do – no residents have yet received follow up contact. Richard Cornelius had written the following comments in the local newspaper that week:http://www.edgware-today.co.uk/coldetail.cfm?id=2543&bid=1122&headline=The%20borough%20is%20getting%20bigger%20and%20better
- 28th Feb 2015 – residents meeting at house on Sweets Way – 40 in attendance with specialist Solicitor providing advice
- 5th March – meeting arranged with solicitor to discuss specific issues – review documentation – which upon initial inspection by the lawyer was found to be flawed
- SUNDAY 8TH MARCH – COMMUNITY FUNDAY – TO RAISE AWARENESS AND SEEK SOLUTIONS FOR THE UNSATISFACTORY AND ABOMINABLE SITUATION SO MANY ARE NOW IN – AND TO HAVE SOME FUN – COS COMMUNITY IS NOT DEAD!!!
SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM AIMS
- To be discussed and decided upon, with the following suggestions likely feature in those discussions:
- Dispersed residents need to be housed adequately, suitably and locally
- Treatment of people in this manner is not acceptable – and MUST NOT HAPPEN
- We need homes for all, not just for the rich and greedy
- We need homes people can afford to live in, be safe and secure in – we do not need “affordable homes” quite simply because we can’t afford them!
- Rent caps and controls and restrictions on landlords and property investors would help the situation – AS WOULD THE BUILDING OF MORE COUNCIL HOMES – NOT THE WHOLESALE LOSS OF COUNCIL HOMES WHICH IS CURRENTLY HAPPENING IN BARNET
- Maybe too bold – but Sweets Way should be CPO’d by Barnet Council and made into a new Council Housing Estate. If not WHY NOT?!
- HALT THE DEMOLITION – REPOPULATE!!
HOW TO GET INVOLVED / SUPPORT:
- Read the press release issued today (copy to follow on this site)
- Twitter: @sweetswayN20
- Facebook: Sweets Way Resists
- Come visit: Nearest tube (5 mins away): Totteridge & Whetstone, Northern Line (15-20 mins from Camden Town), Buses: 263, 234, 125, 251, 34, 326 – stop by B&Q or the Griffin
Note 1: Corrected from “150-160” on the 3rd May 2015