Southwark Council stole our homes and we are not going to forget it. (Terry Redpath, Former Heygate Leaseholder)
The final two Heygate residents must leave the estate by 4th Nov. These will be the last of the 990 households still resident on the Heygate when the notorious Heygate Action Plan was put into effect in 2007. This plan decreed that everybody would be moved off the estate before the new homes they were promised would rehouse them were built.
The final residents have been told that if they are not gone by 4th Nov the bailiffs will be knocking at their doors. They are in a quandary however: The compensation they need to buy a new home will not be paid until after they have left.
A request to Southwark Council that the compensation be paid before they leave - which only seems reasonable - has been refused. On top of this, Southwark has threatened to reduce the compensation by the amount required to pay any bailiffs and associated legal costs.
In response to an enquiry as to what housing might be available should leaseholders have nowhere to go, Southwark first referred them to its emergency housing services, who then said that it had no legal obligation to provide temporary accommodation and suggested staying with friends and family.
This is a very long way from 'NEW HOMES FOR HEYGATE' where every resident on the estate - whether tenant or leaseholder - was promised a new home in one of 16 replacement housing sites.
It is worth remembering exactly what was promised:
Leaseholders were originally offered a shared equity option on buying a new home in one of 16 replacement housing sites and the new-build Heygate homes[^1]. But despite reaching the point of being asked to choose what kind of layout they preferred for their new homes, the shared equity option never got written into the final agreements with the developers of the sites, and no leaseholders were able to move into any of the replacement housing sites or the new Heygate homes.
When asked at the recent CPO public inquiry why leaseholders didn't get the new homes that they had been promised, the council's lead officer replied "I don't know, I wasn't employed by the council at the time the promises were made. But the new homes will be open for anybody to purchase and I am sure Lend Lease will be happy to sell to anybody.":
Most leaseholders have subsequently been forced to relocate to outer London boroughs because of the low valuations offered in compensation for their homes. Any leaseholder wanting to return to the Heygate will have to compete with overseas buyers at market prices well beyond their means. New-build Heyate homes are currently being sold at prices starting from £340,000 for a 1-bed flat, and are being heavily marketed overseas in China, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Analysis of information received from FOI requests shows that the average compensation received by leaseholders as the council's valuation of their homes is as follows:
- 1 Bed flat - £95,480
- 2 Bed flat - £107,230
- 3 Bed Maisonette - £156,833
- 4 Bed Maisonette - £177,421
This is why most have been forced to relocate outside central London.
In a recent interview with Property Week magazine, former Heygate leaseholder Terry Redpath said "We could no longer afford to stay in the area: the compensation we received plus £45,000 of life savings bought us a terraced property 15 miles out of London. I feel that we have been forced to give up our home to accommodate the building of homes for overseas investors.”
Redpath is a former Southwark housing officer who lived on the estate for 35 years, and whose family has lived in the area for generations. On average the compensation paid to leaseholders amounts to around a quarter of the price of the new Heygate homes.
When Southwark Council took the decision to push residents off the estate in 2007, it wasn't just bad news for Heygate residents, it was the first step towards putting any new Heygate homes beyond the reach of most people in London.
[^1]: See paragraph 26 of the 2005 Leaseholder Policy and also paragraphs 4 & 33 of the Executive Report - 'Heygate Estate Decant Arrangements', 18 May 2004: "Council Executive agrees to develop housing options for leaseholders whose interests will be acquired as part of the main scheme, including shared and retained equity arrangements. The negotiation of shared ownership retained equity schemes for people to buy a share in a higher valued property will form part of the procurement exercise to select housing association and developer partners."