Homerton residents horrified by plans to convert communal spaces into flats

Plans to convert four communal drying rooms at a housing estate in Homerton into two maisonettes have been met with horror by residents.

Sanctuary Housing, who own the estate, lodged a planning application to build the maisonettes at Gascoyne House, Gascoyne Road with the council on Monday (October 15).

The rooms date back to when the block was built in the 1940s to enable residents to dry their clothes.

Some of the rooms continue to be used for the same purpose, while others are used for storage. Each room is shared by between one and four tenants.

Ann-Marie Bennett, 58, a counsellor, said: “I’ve been using the room for drying my clothes for 30 years.

“Sanctuary Housing did not consult us about their plans. They wrote a letter to residents a week ago, notifying us they wanted to change it into a maisonette.

“I’m really angry that I don’t have a say.

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“Four of us use it at the moment to dry our clothes and store things like suitcases and children’s bikes. They said they plan to board it up and have asked us to remove our possessions.

“I have no storage space. We are not allowed to hang clothes on our balcony and I’m not sure where I am going to put my things.”

Full-time painter Oliver Dungey, 60, who uses one of the rooms as an artist’s studio, is “upset” by the proposals.

He said: “When I bought the leasehold, I asked the tenant’s association if I could use it as a painting room. I was granted permission to do so.

“I like having a separate space. It’s not very big, but I’ve put mirrors on the walls to make it appear bigger and lighter.

“I like the freedom to slosh paint around without worrying about spilling it on the floors.”

He also expressed concern about potential overcrowding in the block, which contains hundreds of flats.

“What’s upsetting is that there will be overcrowding”, he said.

“The rooms are not very big and do not have very good light.”

“I think this is a rather mean way of trying to satisfy a demand for housing.”

David Gooch, Sanctuary’s director of development in the South, said: “We have submitted plans to convert the old laundry rooms into new accommodation and we are also considering other options including a community building and the possibility of additional homes.

“We are speaking directly with residents about the options and will continue to seek their views before any decisions are made.”