Today, Tuesday 6th October 2015, Circle Housing will hold a private board meeting that will not only potentially decide the future of our Ravensbury area, but will also decide the fate of Eastfields and Highpath also. This supposed regen has been forced down the throats of tenants and residents alike, who know that the plans designed by CHMP with very little input of substance from residents, will ruin our homes, community and much of the unique nature that is Ravensbury.
At no stage have residents been allowed to refuse the planned redevelopment, at no stage have residents been able to regulate the density of homes planned, at no stage have residents been allowed to shape the location & heights of homes. At every stage, CHMP did their best to relegate the tenants and residents input into the consultation. Every comment, every statement, every THING that didn’t suit their pursuit for regeneration was pushed to the margins, including immensely valid representations by the majority of residents.
For over two years now, the majority of Ravensbury residents have fought tooth and nail against the ultimate travesty: the demolition of much of Ravensbury under the auspices of our Labour councillors including Councillor Stephen Alambritis (leader of Merton Council) and our Labour MP, Siobhan McDonagh. At every stage these people, who were voted in to represent the residents of Ravensbury, have applauded and deferred to the housing association that supposedly bought the entire Merton housing stock for £1m. These people have ignored the protests of residents, and done their best not to sit on the fence but to absolutely ignore opinions on the ground, as if their allegiance was with the housing association and not the electorate.
Ravensbury Residents feel that the decision to demolish was effectively conspired by those in power some time ago and that the consultation is a mere PR sham, that attempts to pitch residents, leaseholders & tenants against each other in a mad scramble for the detritus that may remain following the mass demolition of an area that forms the backbone of an area unique in character in Merton. Architects appointed by Circle have been happy to ignore requests for further conversation, instead telling us to wait for the circus tents to arrive. To see disgusting elitest behaviour such as this in the 21st Century is beyond comprehension. This treatment of residents has been abysmal and plain disgusting, akin to the Edwardian era where the citizens meant nothing to the state; an era before any notion of socialism, i.e.our Society in its modern sense.
Ravensbury Residents feel that CHMP with their cloak and dagger regen mannerisms, evicting the elderly from our community at the earliest stage possible resulting in the “early death” of one of our own, have scraped the barrel in terms of an ethical and honest regen consultation. When a body such as this acts, it does so effectively as a public body, and should therefore aim to maintain the highest ethical stance possible. Quite the opposite has been experienced by many here at Ravensbury.
It appears that Circle Housing is fighting for its future and seems intent on selling off Ravensbury & much of Merton to the highest bidder. Legally, HAs cannot sell housing stock directly but they can attempt to “regenerate” ie redevelop an area and sell off as many homes as they see fit. Any profits are termed operating surpluses and it’s very vague as to how these monies are subsequently employed. Our residents have come to the assumption that profits will not be retained in Ravensbury, and quite possibly not even retained in Merton.
The whole regen consultation smacks of land grab, selling off the extended London community in piecemeal fashion, relegating the established community in order to extract maximum revenues and keep the housing association alive. Bleeding a community such as Ravensbury of its people, its character, its lifeblood, in order to keep an organisation such as Circle afloat through operating surpluses and redeployment of funds outside of London will not solve the housing crisis. This will only exacerbate inner city problems through the displacement of secure communities whose character should shape future developments, not be destroyed for short term gain and fat cat housing association salaries.
Compulsory purchases of brownfield industrial “land banks” should be a possible solution but one that has been ignored by central London government for maybe twenty years. Huge corporations sit on land that could be repurposed for both social homes and private homes, but our governments have been too afraid to compulsory purchase their land. Instead, they have seen fit to designate strong vibrant communities across London as brownfield land, thereby happy to evict tenants, leaseholders and private owners in the name of regeneration and threaten the man in the street with compulsory purchase of his or her home because they are unable to pay for a huge team of lawyers.
Regeneration is plain and simple redevelopment. It’s obvious to those under the threat of this poison that is so readily offered up as a cure-all. Those that were once guardians of our homes and communities have now turned. The same people are now intent on demolition, and happy to preside over dirty tricks campaigns that are the ultimate ASBO … THE DEMOLITION OF OUR HOMES.