Protest takes place against the sale of keyworker homes in Bethnal Green
PUBLISHED: 15:11 19 February 2019
Residents and councillors are protesting the sale of keyworker homes in Bethnal Green.
Yesterday demonstrators met outside a house on Robinson Road up for sale by Peabody, one of Britain’s largest housing associations.
Peabody themselves bought the house in a controversial sale by the Crown Estates in 2011.
The homes in the 2011 deal used to be reserved for public servants like police officers, nurses and teachers.
Peabody’s head of asset management, Richard Ellis, told residents it had been in talks with the council about buying the home, but the deal has since fallen through.
Kevin Brady, councillor for St Peter’s ward, said at the protest: “In the borough there are 19,000 families currently on the waiting list. One of the things we’re in short supply of is family-sized homes.”
“The council’s not able to fulfil the housing obligations through its own means. We need to work with housing associations and they shouldn’t be selling-off family-sized homes.”
“We’re not asking for anything unreasonable. We’re asking for Peabody to work with the council to identify where there are specific needs and areas where it isn’t necessary to sell-off much-needed housing stock.”
A Peabody spokesperson emphasised that this house was rented at market rates and that selling some stock is necessary to build more social homes.
“Our approach is the standard for the sector and entirely in line with our social purpose,” they said
However, some residents aren’t convinced.
The Victoria Park Community Residents Association (VPCRA) says Peabody is breaching the terms of its purchase from the Crown Estate by selling too many homes or letting them to non-keyworkers.
Peabody denies this.
It also says the Crown Estate is not keeping a close enough eye on the housing association to ensure its abiding by the 2011 deal.
Nik Wood is a member of the Victoria Park Community Residents Association and has been campaigning in the area since he moved there in 1976.
“Because the two houses that were put up for sale have failed to sell, we’re going to try to keep them failed and we’re going to pressurise them into changing their tiny minds over this one as well.
“It is both money-grubbing and myopic. It is very short-term thinking, trying to raise the money this way when you could be renting it to a family.”
Similar action has been taken to protect houses in neighbouring Hackney.