Homeowners ‘feel bullied’ over compulsory purchase

Leaseholders on the Ebury Bridge estate ‘complain that they have felt intimidated’

Friday, 1st April — By Tom Foot

liza begum

Churchill Gardens ward Labour councillor Liza Begum

LEASEHOLDERS who face having their homes compulsory purchased feel “bullied and intimidated”, a councillor has said.

A group of 11 home-owners on the Ebury Bridge estate have objected to the CPOs and are refusing to strike a deal to give up their homes.

It means Westminster City Council will have to forcefully seek possession of homes on the estate that had previously been sold off under right-to-buy, so it can build a 780-home regeneration scheme.

Churchill Gardens ward Labour councillor Liza Begum said: “I have been in touch with leaseholders who have said that the entire process has been extremely traumatic.

“They feel overwhelmed with legal documents which they do not understand, making information inaccessible for most leaseholders.

“At the moment leaseholders feel like the ‘regen’ team are using a divide-and-conquer tactic. Most have complained that they have felt intimidated while having to deal with officers by themselves, when they cannot comprehend all the legal information which is provided to them.

“For example, the CPOs were issued at the end of January, I believe, and the deadline to submit objections was not made clear.

“The overwhelming response I get from Ebury leaseholders is that they feel bullied and intimidated by the ‘regen’ team. I did bring this up at my January scrutiny meeting but this was dismissed by cabinet members.

Cllr Begum added that the overall picture on the estate was “very depressing”, adding: “People bought their homes 20 to 30 years ago with the intention that it would become their retirement home in the future. Among the leaseholders I have a couple in their 70s that are now having to go through the process of selling their home and having to move out of the area.

“The remaining leaseholders have also complained that service charges included window cleaning but the blocks have not been maintained for many years.”

The Extra reported last week how the city council was “steeling” itself for having to evict an “entrenched” group of homeowners through the compulsory purchase system.

The council broke ground at the first phase of the development site this week in what city hall said was a “significant milestone” of the building 780 new homes.

The council approved its own planning application for phase two of Ebury Bridge estate redevelopment in May last year, and the mayor signed off the scheme the following August.

Unusually for a project this large residents were not balloted about the proposals.

In a notice to residents about the threat of CPOs, the city council had said: “To achieve the implementation of this regeneration scheme, we made a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on January 7 that affects a number of properties and businesses across the Ebury Bridge estate.”

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