Tag Archives: housing

Lewisham Homeless Demonstration

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Pic: Christopher Ubsdell. Lewisham Council housing estate.

By Christopher Ubsdell and William Chick.

Lewisham Homeless Peoples Union is holding a demonstration outside the Town Hall to call on the Council to do more about the borough’s housing shortage. They also want more action to tackle increasing homelessness.

LHPU are calling on Lewisham Council to provide a homeless shelter over Christmas, to get people off the streets during the coldest period of the year. The protest is to take place on Thursday, 4 December.

Jamie of LHPU who is organising the protest said: “We want the Council to house or at least shelter people that are sleeping outside over Christmas. Lewisham Housing Action Group have offered to get a place up and running but the Council have to provide a space.

“A polish gentlemen that I met at a stall said he got turned away from the 999 club in Deptford recently because he had used it last year, so he wasn’t allowed to use it this year.” Continue reading

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Landlords to check tenant immigration status from December

Government plans to force landlords to check the immigration status of tenants have been criticised by homeless charity Crisis over concerns it could prevent the vulnerably housed from finding a home.

A pilot scheme, due to start in the West Midlands from December 1, will require landlords to check renters’ documents to prove their immigration status as part of the new Immigration Act. Continue reading

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Government supports bill making it harder to evict tenants

Pic credit, Frances Deacon: Gabriel Le, The support people receive should depend on their situation

Pic credit, Frances Deacon: Gabriel Le, the support people receive should depend on their situation

By Adrian Whyatt

The Government has announced it will support Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather’s bill to restrict revenge evictions against tenants who complain about poor conditions.

The Tenancy Reform bill is likely to ban landlords from evicting their tenants by serving a no-fault ‘Section 21’ notice. Under these notices landlords can give tenants 2 months notice to leave without needing to give any reason. The Bill is likely to ban landlords from doing this within 6 months of a local authority improvement or hazard awareness notice. It is also likely to prevent landlords from evicting tenants in response to a legitimate, written complaint about the condition of the property which the local authority considers legitimate. Continue reading

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Closed by Order

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This week I returned to my old stomping ground of Dalston, for the Big Issue journalist training course. My first photo assignment was drawn from the building opposite, a police station of my youth, where I more than once sampled the restrained accommodation.

Around the side – everybody used to enter through the front and leave via the back – where a kind stranger in the doorway invited me in to take some ‘pics’. Since being a police station the building has been sold to a private developer, first rented flats, then more profitable as a hostel. The police car park out the back has been developed into social housing. An alleged sweetener to the council.

A side view if the stairwell inside of the former Dalston Police Station. Hackney

A side view if the stairwell inside of the former Dalston Police Station. Hackney

Outside two elderly gentlemen, precariously holding onto their ‘special brews’, boasted about how many times they had spent nights in the old ‘nick’. One, sadly, pointing out that he often got himself arrested, just so he had somewhere to stay.

Inside of the old Dalston Police Station now a homeless hostel

Inside of the old Dalston Police Station now a homeless hostel

A passing Eastern European woman, who has lived in the area for over ten years, knew it as the site of a ‘notorious’ police station. But what I remembered was the ‘notorious’ enmity between the police station and the Four Aces nightclub nearby. Summed up by graffiti sprayed on the first night the station was vacated.

‘Closed by order of the Four Aces club’

Ironically the club became a part of the Dalston Library extension. Public institution becomes private hostel; private club becomes public institution. No surprises to anyone familiar to housing in the area or London in general, but then both station and club are personal to me, because it is also an intricate part of my own history.

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Historic Building At Risk in Clapton

DSCF1734A cluster of 17th century buildings facing Clapton Pond have been made available for sale by the charity that owns them, prompting concerns that they could be demolished, despite having listed status.

The buildings were originally built to provide housing for elderly local women and did so up until 2012.  As well as flats and a courtyard, the building complex contains a chapel said to be the smallest in the country.

Despite the buildings having grade II listed status, developers could demolish them if given permission by Hackney Council.  It is not yet known if this would be something future owners may attempt. 

Local Councillor Ian Rathbone, who is chair of the Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group, said they “don’t anticipate demolition, just because of the building’s listed status” but added “we are keen to meet with any potential buyer, and expect that this would happen through the formal planning process” as they seek reassurances over the buildings’ future.

The Council does not usually approve the demolition of listed buildings, according to its website.  Any decision would only be made after consultation with English Heritage.

The charity, Dr Spurstowe and Bishops Wood Almshouses, say that they intend to use the money raised by the sale to pay for the construction of new homes with which they could provide more social housing for the elderly.  They had initially hoped to refurbish and continue to use the almshouses but the cost was prohibitive. 

 Father Rob Wickham, member of the board of trustees of the charity and rector at St. John at Hackney Church said: “As a charity for housing elderly people, rather than a charity to protect heritage buildings, the charity cannot justify spending that kind of money” and pointed out that “Anyone who bought it would of course have to follow the strict guidance of English Heritage when refurbishing it”.

 Previous residents of the buildings, called the Bishops Wood Almshouses, were moved by the charity that owns them into alternative accommodation in 2012 and they have lain empty ever since.

 Marcus Soak, who works in a shop nearby, said: “it’s better [they] be used for something than lying empty. Anything is better than empty buildings”.

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