Hackney Council accused of 'wasting' fortune on condemned Hoxton flats
PUBLISHED: 12:33 17 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:03 24 October 2017
More than £145,000 of taxpayers' cash has been splashed out on replacing the metal stairways outside a block of flats - despite it being earmarked for demolition.
A compulsory purchase order (CPO) for St Leonard’s Court, Pitfield Street, Hoxton, was ratified by Hackney Council’s cabinet last month, and a case for regeneration will be made to the Secretary of State who has the final decision – a process which could take a year.
Only five of the 50 council tenants remain in the block, along with six out of the 14 leaseholders.
But last week the council installed a metal staircase to comply with London Fire Brigade regulations.
Iain Mackay, leaseholder on the St Leonard’s Court Estate, says the move “absolutely beggars belief”.
“They are only months away from demolishing the block, but these imbeciles waste thousands of public pounds of council housing funding on replacing the metal stairways,” he said.
Mr Mackay also hit out at the council for a “decade of housing maintenance neglect”, without which he thinks the block would not be “unaffordable” to repair and at the “end of its life” as the council claims in its CPO decision.
He thinks the council presented “unfeasible” regeneration plans for the seven years since 2004, stalling for time to wait for the “best market conditions possible”.
“They want to demolish St Leonard’s Court so that wealthy foreign developers can buy out the new build, then rent it back to what will clearly be fairly wealthy residents at extortionate rental rates.
“This is a social housing scandal conducted by a so-called Labour council.”
Leaseholders are not being offered the right to return and the buy-back prices offered by the council are far more than other equivalent homes in Hoxton.
The 28 bedsits, 20 one-beds, and two-beds in the court will be replaced with family homes, with 18 for social renting, 11 for shared ownership and 43 for private sale.
“We will have to at least double our debt if we wish to have the same thing as we currently have so we are most certainly losing out here,” said Mr Mackay.
A council spokesman said: “As with some other regeneration estates, to have gone immediately into a CPO process a few years ago may have been seen by residents as overly aggressive, so after extensive consultation and various studies to fund the regeneration, we end up where we are today.
“Leaseholders can swap a mortgage on property for a new one on the estate, living rent-free in the interim, and through shared equity, pay no rent on any proportion the council retains if the new property is of a higher value.”