Bethnal Green house for ‘key workers’ fails to sell at second auction amid community pressure

Posters at the home on Robinson Road. Picture: Marc Lancaster.

Posters at the home on Robinson Road. Picture: Marc Lancaster. - Credit: Marc Lancaster

A house that used to be reserved for ‘key workers’ like firefighters and teachers has failed to sell at auction as residents pressured the housing association Peabody to keep the home.

The kitchen of 17 Robinson Road. Picture: Glyn Robbins.

The kitchen of 17 Robinson Road. Picture: Glyn Robbins. - Credit: Glyn Robbins

It was the second time Peabody tried to sell the three-bed at 17 Robinson Road. It withdrew it from auction in February after the community’s campaign.

Once rented below market rate to people in ‘key’ professions like teachers and firefighters, Peabody had let it at market rate before it decided to sell.

The recommended starting price was £650,000 and up. A spokesman for Peabody said it has not yet decided on next steps and didn’t comment further.

“What I think is so sad is that it could be let now,” said Joannie Andrews, chair of Victoria Park Residents and Community Association.

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Ms Andrews said she saw inside the house when it was open for viewing and was pleased it didn’t sell at auction.

“It’s a house ready to live in and it has been for some considerable time. Why they don’t just rent it out I do not know.”

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“What we want is for Peabody to put a family in there, so that it can be used as a family home and people can be part of the community”

Peabody said it is necessary to sell some homes so they can build new ones.

A spokesman for the housing association said: “In the two years since we merged with Family Mosaic we have sold 1 empty property at auction in Tower Hamlets.

“In the same period we completed 131 new social homes in the borough.”

Tom McGoldrick lives next to 17 Robinson Road and said that the house has been empty for the last 10 months.

Peabody disputes this and said it may have been empty for longer because it was negotiating with the council to buy the home.

Tower Hamlets eventually decided the asking price was too high, a result that has now repeated itself.

At the time Peabody valued it at £775,000. The average three-bed the council buys is £470,000.

Mayor John Biggs said: “Following the failure to sell 17 Robinson Road at auction Peabody will obviously need to look again at their plans.

“I recognise in some instances there may be circumstances where selling a home could be considered, but as mayor I want Peabody to continue their historic mission of investing in our borough.

He added that the council is working with developers and housing associations to give people decent places to live and reiterated his promise to build 2,000 council homes.

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