In March, the Ledbury Estate Director Mike Tyrell announced that Ledbury towers leaseholders would be offered flats on a shared equity basis at the nearby new build Sylvan Grove development, just off the Old Kent Road
The development by Hyde homes of 3 blocks, comprising a combination of 80 flats and maisonettes were originally built for part shared ownership and part social housing. However, last year Southwark Council announced that they would be buying the entire development for Ledbury tenants to bid on with secure council tenancies at council rents.
Any surplus flats that were not taken by Ledbury tenants were then to be added to Southwark’s Homesearch website for applicants on the boroughs housing waiting list to apply for. However, during March, Southwark Council took a u-turn decision to instead offer any remaining flats to Ledbury leaseholders, on a shared equity basis.
The rents at Sylvan Grove are considerably higher than the Ledbury Estate, and the Ledbury Action Group have approached Southwark Council to ask them to consider matching the rents for tenants moving into like-for-like properties at Sylvan Grove. Many tenants do not wish to leave Ledbury but will be eventually forced to do so when disruptive works to the towers begin. Some of these tenants have lived at Ledbury for many years and wish to remain within their community, and so have opted for Sylvan Grove but are being forced to pay out significantly higher weekly rent and service charge prices through no fault of their own. As a result, some tenants simply cannot afford to move to Sylvan Grove and may be eventually forced out of the community and into other areas within the borough.
Mike Tyrell, Ledbury Estate’s director commented: ‘I can confirm that there are no plans to align the rents and service charges of the new homes at Sylvan Grove with those in the Ledbury Towers.’
After appealing to Southwark Councils Cabinet Member for Housing Stephanie Cryan, she promptly shut down any chance of rent reduction by commenting: “Please take this email as a formal clarification that we can’t offer a subsidy”.
Ledbury Action Group have raised concerns of the actions of Southwark Council potentially causing friction between tenants and leaseholders, as those tenants who may have taken up Sylvan Grove flats, are unable to do so, and may now see those flats going to leaseholders instead - who would not be required to pay rent, but upon later sale of their properties, would share any profits with Southwark Council, arising from the likely substantial increase in value of these homes - which are directly opposite the proposed new Bakerloo tube station.
Ledbury Action Group have also raised concerns over this offer being limited to Sylvan Grove for Ledbury leaseholders.
One Ledbury tenant commented: ‘I work full time and I pay full rent. I don’t get housing benefit. I would have liked to move to Sylvan Grove but I can’t afford it. I feel pressured because we have only a few weeks to make up our minds and bid for these flats, otherwise they’ll go to leaseholders. We don’t even know what’s happening with the blocks at Ledbury yet, if they will be fixed or demolished. I would prefer to stay here (Ledbury), this is my home, but we are being forced to make a decision very quickly and take a risk without knowing what the future will actually hold. It feels very unfair and I don’t understand why we would have to pay such high rents there. None of what has happened at Ledbury is our fault so it just feels like we are being punished over and over again.”