87 homes are empty on estate after council blunder
Massive row developing over regeneration of Ebury Bridge estate
18 August, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya
Save Our Street campaign has launched by businesses
SCORES of flats are lying empty on a housing estate while thousands of people remain on the housing waiting list, the Westminster Extra can reveal.
New figures show 87 empty homes on the Ebury Bridge estate, Pimlico, where a massive regeneration project has been botched by the city council.
Since 2014 residents have been moving out of the estate, as Westminster Council planned to redevelop it by knocking down some houses and refurbishing others.
Last month the council decided to go back to the drawing board after it emerged that no developer would take on the project as it was not “commercially viable”.
For some time the empty flats were used for temporary accommodation, but this was stopped last summer.
“It is depressing, when you know that there are people with kids living in the streets,” said Jennifer Joseph, who lives in Westbourne House.
The 68-year-old, whose own house was to be retained under previous plans, said: “They don’t four years of stress.” He added: “I fear we are going to lose yet more members of our community as a result of this and I will stand with residents in ensuring their voice is heard loud and clear.”
Late last year the council bought 24 houses in Hounslow to accommodate those on the list.
It is understood that some 4,500 households remain on the council’s priority waiting list for housing.
The empty homes were also bad news for the small businesses in Ebury Bridge Road, as the estate’s former residents were their regular customers.
Jane Buttigieg, who works at Occasions fancy dress shop, said: “The of empty flats on the estate and the prospect of residents having to live side by side with board- ed-up blocks due to the council’s mismanagement of the regeneration project. People are feeling worn down by the retailers have lost income due to the residents being moved out and there being no progression on the regeneration.”
A spokeswoman for the resident group, Ebury Bridge CommUNITY, said: “It is demoralising living on a semi-boarded up estate due to nearly 90 properties lying empty.
“Our community is being eroded. The estate is being turned into a ghost town. The retailers are losing customers, the residents are losing neighbours, the street is losing its character & diversity.“
Churchill ward Labour councillor Jason Williams said: “I am very concerned at the number of empty flats on the estate and the prospect of residents having to live side by side with board- ed-up blocks due to the council’s mismanagement of the regeneration project. People are feel- ing worn down by the four years of stress.” He added: “I fear we are going to lose yet more members of our community as a result of this and I will stand with residents in ensuring their voice is heard loud and clear.”
Cllr Rachael Robathan, council cabinet member for housing, said: “There are currently 87 empty flats across the estate. Residents have been moving out since June 2014. Historically as flats became vacant they were used for temporary accommodation. Since last summer we have stopped putting new households in temporary accommodation on Ebury Bridge following concerns expressed by residents.”
Meanwhile, business owners, who had recently launched a campaign to “Save the Street”, have warned there are no firm plans for retailers in the new development and want confirmation they can return after the project is completed. The council described the meeting as a “listening” session. As there are currently no plans or designs, they are keen to get residents’ and local business owners’ views on their priorities for the project.
Retailers in Ebury Bridge Road have called for assurances over their future, after a meeting on Wednesday night on the estate to discuss regeneration plans.