Emily James’ film of the occupation was put online whilst this site was out of action.
(Hackney Gazette 19th June 2008)
Hackney Council spent an enormous amount of money on consultation fees and publicity to convince residents that the only way we were going to get “Decent Homes” was by agreeing to transfer to a housing association, or by way of a Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO). They got the second of their preferred options, the ALMO now called Hackney Homes, and now appear to have a secret agenda to obstruct Hackney Homes from obtaining the required two stars that will release funds from central government to complete the Decent Homes programme in the forthcoming audit by the Audit Commission.
Despite enormous opposition from residents the council, not Hackney Homes, persists in going ahead with its Estates Plus programme.
This programme calls for “under-used land on estates to be sold off to housing associations for development.
What is “under-used land”? It is our green spaces and play areas.
Excuse me councillors, our green spaces and play areas are not under-used. They are an essential part of our estates and environment.
Furthermore it is not your land to dispose of. It belongs to all the residents of Hackney, be they Hackney Homes residents, or not. It is held in trust for future generations. We the current residents of the estates are just the guardians of the land.
Question three on the ballot paper on Decent Homes posed: Were residents in favour of land on estates being used to build on. The answer to this question? Twenty-nine per cent in favour, 66 per cent opposed.
I venture to suggest that were the same question asked today the result would be an even more resounding “no”. Are you really encouraging mass protest by residents just before the audit?
If Hackney Homes fails yet again to obtain two stars following the audit, are you planning to hold a further ballot that will disenfranchise a large proportion of residents by limiting it to one vote per household? (By itself a total abuse of all democratic procedures and principals).
I ask again councillors: Do you have a secret agenda? Is this a ploy to so frustrate residents that they will vote for a transfer to a housing association in order to get Decent Homes and thus allow the council to avoid any responsibility for the 20-odd years of total neglect of our homes?
It certainly appears so.
Finally. No, I am not being a NIMBY. Aspland and Marcon estates are not part of the Estates Plus programme.
Tony Osborne, Secretary,
Aspland & Marcon Court
Estates Tenants’ & Residents’ Association.
Further to our report about the attempt by Hanover in Hackney (HiH) to sell off Bayton Court sheltered housing for the elderly, London Fields, for posh flats (see 2007 News), having been forced to withdraw their original planning application following a heated public meeting in June, they’re back for another go…
It seems that Hanover in Hackney – given the responsibility by Hackney Council to run its sheltered housing units – just can’t ignore the fact that prime building space on London Fields is worth a hell of a lot more than the OAPs they are supposed to be caring for. This time they hope that the council will agree with their plans to kick the elderly tenants out of their homes and build sixteen houses.
Last June’s public meeting organised by OPENDalston, and attended by residents and their families and members of Blackstone Estate TRA, shamed HiH into backing down from their transparently greedy plans to make large amounts of cash at the expense of their vulnerable residents. They should be forced to back down this time too; but don’t rely on local Labour Councillors – last year they sat on the fence. Could it be because Cllr Emma Plouviez is a member of HiH???
BANNER-waving tower-block tenants staged an angry protest last week over sell-off plans which could see their council homes demolished.
Families living in the 160 flats on the Gascoyne Two estate in South Hackney are fighting privatisation plans which could involve knocking down their four rundown 10-storey blocks.
Furious tenants complain they face an uncertain future, plus higher rents and less secure tenancies, over proposals to transfer control from Hackney Council to a housing association landlord.
They have blasted as a “sham” a public consultation open day setting out the preferred options for demolition or refurbishment.
The plans include bulldozing at least two, or maybe all four, blocks and replacing them with low-rise homes.
The alternative is to renovate the buildings, although tenants are angry that they will continue to have to use costly storage heaters because the design of the 1960s-built flats has been deemed structurally unsafe for gas central heating.
“Tenants will face huge upheaval being moved off the estate while the demolition or refurbishment is carried out with no guarantee they will return or be offered comparable-sized accommodation,” said Adrian Peacock, who lives in Ravenscroft Point.
A letter signed by more than 30 tenants opposing the sell-off plans has been sent to the three Wick ward councillors.
This week, the deputy mayor of Hackney, Cllr Jamie Carswell, gave reassurances that the open day was designed to inform residents of the latest developments and get an initial opinion, and that other consultation events would be arranged.
He defended the council’s Estates Plus scheme, which he said was funded separately and designed to improve the estate as a whole, supplementing Decent Homes work.
[Taken from the Hackney Gazette website]
The meeting held on 7 June 2007, to discuss the planned demolition of Bayton Court sheltered housing unit in London Fields by landlords Hanover in Hackney (HiH), was both bizarre and angry in equal measure.
“The purpose of the meeting”, according to the organisers, OPEN, “is to hear a presentation and to discuss a planning application made by Hanover in Hackney to demolish Bayton Court, sheltered housing accommodation on London Fields, and to redevelop the site to provide 16 x 4-bedroom houses and 2 x 4-bedroomed maisonettes for private sale.”
“The redevelopment will impact on the frail and elderly residents, who will need to be relocated, and on residents of neighbouring Blackstone Estate and create significant changes to the setting and streetscape of London Fields.”
Tenants from Blackstone Estate TRA, elderly residents from Bayton Court and others heard first the background from OPEN’s Bill Parry-Davis. In 2002 Bayton Court was stock transferred to HiH because the council claimed it had no money for improvements. Residents were promised that £41 million would be invested with every flat to be refurbished within 5 years and that their Sheltered Housing Officers and the services provided would remain the same.
Reassured, residents voted ‘YES’ to the stock transfer. Despite these reassurances made by HiH and Hackney councillors and officers back in 2002, HiH are now seeking planning permission to demolish the building and put up homes for the wealthy; not just depriving the elderly residents of the community they know and their pleasant green surroundings, but also depriving many residents of Blackstone Estate their views of London Fields, too.
HiH’s presentation of their plans for the new development was bizarre. HiH’s architect – dressed oddly like a Bond villain – gave a presentation as if he were trying to sell the proposed private homes not to the angry pensioners and tenants who were patiently waiting for him to finish, but to a room-full of prospective yuppie buyers.
Following that it took repeated questioning of HiH to get to the heart of the matter. Why build posh homes on London Fields instead of refurbishing or even building a new sheltered unit?
If the money has to be raised by building and selling posh homes, couldn’t it be raised by building and selling posh homes in another part of the borough if necessary, rather than disrupting the remaining years of frail and vulnerable old people, and disrupting – both short-term and permanently – the council tenants of Blackstone Court? HiH admitted they chose London Fields rather than any of their other sites in Hackney because of the value of the land right next to a big leafy park. As Bill Parry-Davis observed, what HiH are really saying is that Bayton Court is too nice and too valuable to be wasted on elderly people.
As usual there was lots of guff from HiH about them taking a “holistic approach” to their management of sheltered housing in Hackney, none of which gets round the fact that they have broken the promise they made to the residents and to Hackney Council in 2002 at the time of the stock transfer. Since then HiH have sold off two other buildings. As one angry member of the meeting’s audience pointed out, “they should be called Handover in Hackney!”
Given that HiH are in breach of a promise made with Hackney Council as well, you might expect the council to be outraged and threatening all sorts of action to protect their legal integrity and the rights of their constituents? Sadly, if predictably, not, however. The Queensbridge Ward Labour councillors at the meeting appeared content to sit on the fence rather than whole-heartedly defend their constituents against a landlord that had effectively lied to them to get hold of their homes five years ago.
Surely, it was asked, Hackney Council planning committee should just declare HiH’s planning application invalid since it is in breach of the original stock transfer agreement? Not so easy apparently. Councillor Emma Plouviez explained that it was up to tenants and residents to object to the planning application. Makes you wonder why we bother electing representatives in the first place….
Hackney Independent will post further developments.
For more info: www.opendalston.net or contact OPEN c/o Dowse & Co. 23-25 Dalston Lane E8 3DF
OPEN (Organisation for Promotion of Environmental Needs Ltd) in association with London Fields User Group
MEETING ABOUT BAYTON COURT DEMOLITION & REDEVELOPMENT
On Thursday 7th June 2007 at 7.30pm at St Michael and All Angels Church Hall (junction of Lavender Grove and Lansdowne Drive E8)
The purpose of the meeting is to hear a presentation and to discuss a planning application made by Hanover in Hackney to demolish Bayton Court, sheltered housing accommodation on London Fields, and to redevelop the site to provide 16 x 4-bedroom houses and 2 x 4-bedroomed maisonettes for private sale. Although the redevelopment proposal does not satisfy the Council’s planning policies, Hanover have asked that it should be considered “holistically” in the context of 11 other planning applications made simultaneously.
Bayton Court is on the west side of, and overlooks, London Fields. The developer proposes todemolish a 2-storey development and build houses at higher density up to 4 and 5 storeys.
The redevelopment will impact on the frail and elderly residents, who will need to be relocated, and on residents of neighbouring Blackstone Estate and create significant changes to the setting and streetscape of London Fields. Blackstone Estate TRA have put in strong objections to the proposal.
Bayton Court is one of 29 sheltered housing schemes which were transferred by Hackney Council to newly formed Hanover in Hackney in October 2002. At that time it was made clear to tenants that the Council had no money to improve the properties but it was promised that, if the transfer proceeded, £41 million would be invested with every flat to be refurbished within 5 years and that their Sheltered Housing Officers and the services provided would remain the same. In view of these promises tenants voted in favour.
However, in 2003 Hanover undertook a review of its former Council assets and identified development and sale opportunities to raise capital from its 29 properties. It commissioned architects to help realise these opportunities. Then, in March 2006, it advised its tenants that, due to Hackney Council requirements, it would be replacing residential sheltered housing officers with “floating support” workers. This scheme is likely to be introduced in November 2007. The demolition and redevelopment plans, and the loss of their residential sheltered housing officers, will not be the subject of a tenants’ ballot.
The planning application drawings for Bayton Court have only recently been published on the Council’s web site although the official consultation period expired on 15 May. The Council’s planning officer has confirmed that comments received prior to the Planning Committee meeting will be considered.
Hanover in Hackney’s architects have agreed to attend and present the scheme at the meeting but with the proviso that, following a “high level” meeting with planners to take place this week, their attendance may become “inappropriate”.
To see planning application go to www.hackney.gov.uk (search planning applications – 2007/0286)
Public meeting:7.30pm, Thursday June 7, St Michael and All Angels Church Hall (junction of Lavender Grove and Lansdowne Drive E8)
For more information contact
www.opendalston.net or contact OPEN c/o Dowse & Co. 23-25 Dalston Lane E8 3DF
In Hackney, NHS cuts are beginning to cause real harm to patient care. Cuts at the Homerton Hospital are escalating, with maternity beds axed, midwives facing redundancy, the specialist breast cancer nurse service cut, redundancy of nurses and therapists, cuts to rehabilitation care for patients who have had a stroke… Rationing of food and milk is so severe that women who have just given birth find themselves unable to have a cup of tea because the hospital can’t afford milk!
In Hackney, we’re also seeing NHS cuts having a serious impact on mental health services and community services. In mental health, we, we’ve had one acute and one rehab ward closed already – with more cuts to come. Community services are expected to lose £13.6 million this April, on top of the £17 million taken out of local NHS funding last year. Health workers at the Primary Care Trust now face redundancy. Morale amongst health workers across Hackney is close to rock bottom, as the financial squeeze gets tighter and tighter.
Our local demonstration in Hackney is part of a national Day of Action to defend the NHS. We’re now seeing cuts and privatisation on an unprecedented scale. Nationally, around 26,000 NHS jobs have been axed. Billions of pounds of public money are being squandered on PFI, Independent Sector Treatment Centres and other privatisation schemes. Cuts and closures are now causing incalculable damage.
The demonstration is on Saturday 3rd March, assembling at 12 noon outside Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street. Please do everything you can to attend the demonstration yourself, and to bring friends, neighbours or colleagues with you. Leaflets for the march are attached.
It’s time for a real fight to defend our NHS. Please come to the Hackney demonstration on 3rd March. This has been called by trade unions at the Homerton Hospital, City and Hackney Primary Care Trust and East London Mental Health Trust, and supported by the ‘Keep Hackney NHS Public’ campaign. We need as much support as we can possibly get from people who live or work in Hackney.
Chair, Keep Hackney NHS Public
from Hackney Gazette, 8 February 2007
Tenants, residents and a Hackney Labour Party branch are up in arms about council plans to sell off up to £50 million worth of land on housing estates. The Leabridge branch of the Labour Party voted at a meeting last Thursday to oppose the council’s estates regeneration programme. The meeting passed a motion to debate the issue at Hackney North and Stoke Newington Constituency Labour Party next month.
Three days earlier, more than 70 people met at the Trelawney estate community hall in Morning Lane, Hackney, to discuss launching a campaign to fight the plans.
Janine Booth, of Malpas Road, Hackney, said the council’s idea was to fragment, privatise and over-populate the borough’s estates by allowing registered social landlords (RSLs) to build more homes and demolish a number of existing properties.
“Publicly-owned land is an asset that should not be given over into private hands,” she said. “Transfer to an RSL is a move away from away from public accountability, a form of privatisation.
“The experiences of residents on estates transferred in the past are not good. The council must be defining areas which residents use as ‘under-used’. To the council and developers, ‘under-used’ probably means ‘not making money’.”
The meeting of tenats and residents concluded by resolving to form an action committee; produce a petition; demonstrate outside the town hall and on estates facing demolition; demand a meeting with the council’s executive; and co-ordinate a response with trade unions.
According to a report which went before Hackney Council’s Cabinet last October, the council is seeking to sell patches of land for redevelopment, such as a plot between housing blocks on the Haberdasher estate in Shoreditch, large enough to accommodate 40 new two and three bedroom maisonettes.
Sales of such sites on 26 estates across the borough to RSLs for redevelopment could provide more than 500 new homes and generate up to £50 million for the town hall.
Last month the Gazette reported on concerns among community campaign group, Hackney Independent, that tenants and residents were being kept in the dark about the exact location of sites being earmarked by the council for redevelopment.
In October last year, 30 tenants of the Points on the Gascoyne estate in Homerton dressed as Guy Fawkes and Hallowe’en-style characters and demonstrated outside the town hall against the potential demolition of their homes.
Cllr Jamie Carswell, deputy mayor of Hackney and the Cabinet member for housing, said “I think the residents have got the wrong end of the stick. Nothing’s been decided as yet. There’s going to be a lot of work done by our capacity consultants, work which is still waiting to be done.
“The key thing is that any resources gained get ploughed straight back on to the estates. We would not be doing this unless it was about people’s homes and where people live.”
from the Hackney Gazette, 1 February 2007
Commenting on the disquiet that has met proposals to flog off ‘spare’ space on council estates for development (“In the Dark Over Land Sell-Off Plan”, Gazette, January 11), Cllr Jamie Carswell made a number of remarks that need clarification.
He said: “We will be building much-needed housing (and) we will also be investing in facilities for the community, such as playgrounds, garages and parking spaces”.
Who is this “we” that Cllr Carswell claimed will be building new homes? Certainly not the council. Their report on the matter makes it clear that any land freed up as a result of the demolition of homes and garages will be sold to housing associations. Moreover 30 per cent of the new homes will be for private sale.
How can the council claim that “we” are set to build new homes under these circumstances? It seems that what New Labour in Hackney are really doing is continuing the flogging-off of public assets – something we were told was a thing of the past.
Where exactly will the space be found to provide “playgrounds, garages and parking spaces” when it is just these facilities which the council is proposing to knock down and sell off?
The space already exists for “investment” in these facilities. Why not just “invest” in what’s already there, if that’s what Cllr Carswell really meant?
Hackney’s council estates are already densely built and under-resourced. If there are unused spaces – and that is debateable – why can’t they be used to improve the environment for existing tenants?
Residents are being kept in the dark over a bid to sell off up to £70 million worth of council-owned land on Hackney’s housing estates, campaigners claim.
Garages, play areas and green spaces are all at risk, but the council is refusing to say which ones, according to community campaign group, Hackney Independent (HI). Peter Sutton, HI spokesman, asked the council through a Freedom of Information Act request to confirm the locations of 18 sites which have been identified on the Cranston, St John’s and Haberdasher estates in Hoxton and Shoreditch and Fellows Court in Haggerston.
Mr Sutton said that he was told a consultant would be appointed this month to carry out further assessments, with plans being published in due course. Sales of such sites on 26 estates across the borough to registered social landlords for redevelopment could provide 700 new homes and generate up to £70 million for the town hall, according to a report which went before Cabinet last October.
A plot of land between housing blocks on the Haberdasher estate is large enough to accomodate 40 new, two and three bedroom maisonettes and a doctor’s surgery, according to the report.
It adds that at least five estates in Shoreditch are being targeted for sale and redevelopment in an already overcrowded area where property values are high, said Mr Sutton.
“The council’s still stuck in the bad, old days,” he said. “If you ask something, they say it’s too early to tell you. You ask again and they say the decision’s already been taken.
“There’s already a lack of open spaces in the Shoreditch area. There are issues with flooding from the sewers and water shortages.
“This is about removing play areas, garages that are in use and green spaces on estates, which are essential to make them decent places to live. If there’s room for anything new, it should be council housing.”
Mr Sutton added that he had been told that developers for the sites had been lined up and that homes had been earmarked for demolition without residents being informed.
Cllr Jamie Carswell, Hackney’s deputy mayor and Cabinet member for housing, said: “The next regeneration programme of Hackney’s estates is still at an early stage.
“Although we will be building much-needed housing, we will also be investing in facilities for the community, such as playgrounds, garages and parking spaces.
“By the end of this week we will have held 18 meetings with tenant’s and resident’s associations as well as residents to set out our strategy.
“However, because it is still at an early stage we are also very keen not to raise expectations or worry people unnecessarily.
“We will be consulting residents again once our consultant has identified the sites that have housing potential as these sites will provide the money to improve the lives of residents on our estates.”