Last night, Mitcham Eastfields Residents Association added a very interesting post about the scheming consultation and behaviour by Circle Housing Merton Priory Homes:
We have repeated it below also:
MASTERPLANNING SOCIAL CLEANSING
Nobody in their right mind objects to improvements being made to their community. Occasionally though, improvements come at a cost and against them the benefits need to be weighed.
The large scale demolition of homes is an event of such magnitude that considerable time, extensive consultation, in-depth research, detailed planning and due diligence are all required in order that a comprehensive and balanced decision can be made. The grounds for such drastic action maybe varied: for the public good such as in the building of a hospital or school; of national or strategic interest such as in the building of a motorway or for the safety of the public such as the demolition of tenement blocks.
Following transparent and exhaustive consultation, good practice is for a number of options to be laid before the public in general (those affected in particular) for there to be further consultation and for a decision to be made.
None of this will sound familiar to the residents of Mitcham’s Eastfields Estate. The decision to completely demolish our homes was made in secret by the Management Board of Circle Housing in December 2012. Seven months later, starting in July 2013, they hosted a series of bogus consultation events at which they cynically pretended to be interested in hearing our views about improvements to our estate. They then proceeded to deceive the media and dupe the council by pretending that they had not only conducted a “successful consultation” with Eastfields residents about demolition, but that we had agreed that it would be a good idea to have our homes knocked down to make way for an estate that could not afford to live in.
An underreported fact about Eastfields Estate is that 46% of homes are owner occupied. That figure shoots up to 78% ownership of our estates Town Houses. These are generally well maintained and the responsibility of their owners and have nothing to do with Circle Housing.
So why do they want to demolish everything we have worked our lives for? Is it this for the greater public good? Are hundreds of homes going to be demolished for a hospital to be built? Is there a plan to create additional new social housing units? The answer to each question is a resounding no.
What we are witnessing is quite simply a ruthless exercise in profiteering. Circle Housing bought 9000 ex council properties from Merton council for £1.2 million with a promise to bring tenanted properties up to the Merton Standard by 2015. Instead of doing this they plan to destroy the homes of thousands of people whilst making hundreds of millions of pounds in the process.
The three estates targeted by Circle Housing: Eastfields, Ravensbury and High Path are each conveniently located close to mainline stations with direct access to central London terminals. ”Prime real estate” as property developers would call it. The presence of thousands of ordinary, hard working people, happily living on them is a mere inconvenience to Circle Housing. They are not interested in our residents or for that matter, our homes. They are focused purely on the land on which our homes stand and our surroundings and the riches that can be reaped from replacing our homes and then cramming in an additional 1,200 properties beside them.
In order to maximise profits, Circle Housing will be privately selling and renting many of the new builds. Circle Housing have publicly stated that they will not build a single, additional social needs property as there is less money to be made from them. For present tenants, Circle Housing will force them out by doubling rents from ‘general needs’ (40% market value) level to the ‘affordable housing’ (80% market value) level. Those whose rents are paid by benefits will be deterred from attaining employment as their salaries couldn’t possibly pay the hiked rents that will be demanded by Circle Housing. As soon as they find work and can’t afford their rent Circle Housing will kick them out.
For Homeowners, properties on the new development can be expected to be double the value of current ones. So by paying current open market value to householders, Circle Housing can ensure that current working class homeowners couldn’t possibly afford to return to the new gentrified estate without incurring crippling personal debt. Service charges are expected to dramatically rise too.
And so Mitcham Eastfields becomes socially cleansed. An established working class community gets driven out forever. A new affluent settlement for the well- off is built in our stead. What Circle Housing planned in secret in 2012 and hopes to begin to implement in 2016 has nothing to do with the public good and everything to do with profit. It is not regeneration for the benefit of our current community it is the social cleansing of our community and the gentrification of our area for a wealthy community. The profits that Circle Housing stand to make are astronomical. Circle Housing Plan to knockdown over 1,000 homes and build over 2,300.
It is only a LIKE-FOR-LIKE financial arrangement for Tenants and Homeowners that can prevent the social apartheid that Circle Housing is Masterplanning for Mitcham Eastfields.