Crown Estate London homes sell-off gets go-ahead

THE controversial sale of Crown Estate rented homes in London has been approved after a long campaign by families fighting to keep their security.

The properties overlooking Victoria Park in East London are being sold along with three other estates to the Peabody Trust, it has emerged this week.

Plans are going ahead in early spring for the sale of its estate at Victoria Park together with the Cumberland Market estate in Holloway, the Millbank in Westminster and Lee Green in Lewisham.

The families had been campaigning to secure their tenancies and the right for essential ‘key workers’ to continue renting at ‘affordable’ rates since the Crown Estate’s decision a year ago to offload its housing. They feared their homes would be sold off on the property market.

Joannie Andrews, chairwoman of Victoria Park Residents’ Association, said: “We didn’t think the decision to sell was the right one, but Peabody is a reputable housing charity and we just have to move forward.”

Campaigners picketed the Crown Estate board meeting last year and lobbied local councillors and MPs, including Bethnal Green’s former Respect MP George Galloway who raised the sale issue in Parliament.

They have since won promises of tenancy security—under the 1961 Crown Estate Act—with a guarantee from the new owners that nine out of 10 new lettings will be at fixed rent to key workers.

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Crown estates chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said: “For existing residents, their position is secured. The Crown Estate will now be better able to meet its duties under the Crown Estate Act in the future.”

The sale, which is expected to be complete in early spring, was finally approved by the Crown Estate Board yesterday, after it claimed a majority of tenants expressing an opinion during last year’s consultations had “welcomed Peabody” as a prospective new owner.

Peabody is legally bound to honour existing residents’ specified rights including how rents are set, succession rights and their security of tenure. It is also committed to continue new lettings to key workers at the same level as the Crown Estate, currently around 90 per cent.