At a residents meeting held with the council on 23rd August, Southwark bosses surprised residents by announcing that they were in the process of purchasing 80 new build homes on nearby Sylvan Grove from Hyde Homes, which would be reserved entirely for Ledbury residents and would be Council tenancies at Council rents.
This news was well received by residents, especially those who wish to remain in the local area and be rehoused close to their Ledbury friends and neighbours, with several residents adding their names to an ‘Expression Of Interest’ list held by the council.
At the meeting Southwark had stated ‘We are finalising plans with Hyde Housing Association to purchase a brand new block very close to the Ledbury, with 80 properties from 1 to 3 bedrooms. These will be council properties at council rent. We are hoping these will be ready this November, and we will reserve the whole block for Ledbury Tower residents.’
However, as November approached, residents raised concerns over why the new properties were still appearing for sale via shared ownership on the Hyde Homes website. Additionally, a visit to the building site and a discussion with the site foreman revealed that the flats were unlikely to be ready until February 2018 at the earliest.
A further telephone call to Hyde Homes in early November revealed that the council’s purchase of the Sylvan Grove Development had not yet even been processed.
After residents chased the council for answers on this, the acquisition paperwork was finally uploaded onto the Southwark Council website. Southwark then announced via the weekly Ledbury newsletter that there would be several months delay in residents being able to move into these new homes, causing disappointment to residents who had been holding out for these new homes and hoping to be in by Christmas. The newsletter stated that the flats ‘should be ready around February, but we do not have a fixed time yet.’
At the time of writing, Southwark have not offered any explanation for the delay, nor apologised to residents on this matter. No reasons for the delay have been forthcoming and residents are left not knowing if or when they’ll be able to move into these homes.
Additionally, there is a potential dilemma for the council in allocating these flats fairly, as a number of the flats (which were originally built with shared ownership in mind) are furnished to a very high specification with built in kitchen appliances and full carpeting, whereas a number of other flats (which were originally built for social rents) are far more basic.
One resident commented: ‘Given that some flats are furnished to a higher standard than others, I would believe that in order to be completely fair, Southwark are obliged to ensure that they are all brought up to the same standard.’