London Fields residents threaten legal challenge over council garage sale uproar
PUBLISHED: 16:10 20 June 2013 | UPDATED: 16:10 20 June 2013
Residents on an estate are up in arms over a council decision to sell publicly owned garages in their neighbourhood.
Hackney Council wants to sell four garages on the Morland Estate, Richmond Road, London Fields – but people living there are upset with the proposals and claim the council has breached the law for failing to consult them.
It’s the second time the council has attempted to sell the buildings – in 2002 the estate’s tenants’ association successfully campaigned to stop them going on the market.
Since then, the garages have been boarded up and out of use – despite claims that a large number of the 110 residents on the estate have expressed an interest in renting the storage spaces.
There are only four garages and four parking spaces available for use and residents claim demand has sky-rocketed since the reopening of the London Fields Lido opposite and the introduction of a Controlled Parking Zone in the area.
Ginny Halley, 57, said: “We are very concerned about the council deciding to sell off the garages and the loss of amenity to the estate without consulting any of the residents, especially when there’s a huge demand for garage space.
“It’s outrageous the council has allowed the garages to become derelict and boarded them up, and now seem to use that a justification for selling them. Residents have expressed interest for more car, bike and general storage.”
Helen Mead, of Richmond Road, whose house borders the garages on Morland Estate, said: “The council did consult with residents 12 years ago and people said they wanted the garages to be refurbished – as one had a leak. But the council did not fix them and then boarded them up so residents did not have access. The garages have subsequently fallen into disrepair.”
The residents are now taking legal advice from lawyer Bill Parry-Davies. He said: “The Tenants’ Association successfully campaigned against the sale of the garages in 2002. But then Hackney boarded them all up and has lost about £45,000 by failing to rent them.
The garages are held for housing purposes and the council, as landlord, has a legal duty to consult its tenants on any changes to amenities affecting them. However the council has now made a decision to sell without consulting tenants, which is unlawful.”
Section 105 of the Housing Act 1985 says that councils have a duty to consult council tenants who are likely to be substantially affected by a change in the provision of amenities/services in relation to their homes.
The minutes of the proposals will go before the cabinet on Monday (June 24).
A council spokesperson said: “The council is under no statutory obligation to consult on the sale of derelict land at 1a London Fields Westside.”
According to documents seen by Ms Mead, an estate agent has valued the garages at £225,000.