CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Now listen to us, say tenants who won vote against demolition bid

Opponents to overhaul fear One Housing will come back with new ballot plan

01 April, 2021 — By Dan Carrier

Karl Lewkowicz, chair of the tenants and residents association

A £500 million scheme to demolish an award winning estate built just 25 years ago is facing a backlash from tenants who claim their views are being ignored.

Gilbeys Yard and Juniper Crescent – stretching alongside railway tracks in Chalk Farm – is managed by One Housing, which is looking to revamp the whole site.

But tenants, who have already voted against one design in an estate regeneration ballot, say there is no need to bring in a bulldozer and flats could be updated with better care and minor changes.

They say they are being put under pressure to accept a scheme they do not want.

Karl Lewkowicz, the chair of the tenants’ and residents’ association, said: “The ballot was the final stage of three years of negotiation and was a resounding majority against demolition. One Housing has refused to accept the result as final and has said that another ballot is still a possibility. We anticipate a new proposal coming from them shortly.”

Under new laws, landlords must ballot tenants over large building projects – and honour the outcome.

Some 91 residents voted against the overhaul last time, against 61 who were in favour.

The estate designed in 1996 and was the winner of architectural awards.

One Housing said overcrowding could be tackled by a rebuild, but opponents have said there needs to be more detail on how the project will tackle London’s homes crisis and not open the door to private buyers. There has also been a request for the term “affordable housing” to be clarified.

Mr Lewkowicz added: “Throughout the whole ‘regeneration’ process they have continued to force their views onto residents without listening.

“It is incredibly destabilising to be continually bombarded by letters implicitly suggesting that another ballot on demolition is on the cards, when we have made our views abundantly clear in the majority vote against this taking place.”

Other complaints among the campaigners include claims that repairs are not being quickly undertaken while the spectre of a possible demolition project hangs over the estate.

Mr Lewkowicz said: “Everyone on both estates complains about the woeful maintenance service, and say One Housing have pursued a policy of managed decline in order to advance their argument that the homes are not fit for purpose.”

A One Housing spokesperson said: “We are currently engaging with residents to understand why they voted the way they did. Depending on their feedback, we will continue working with them and decide on whether to propose new regeneration plans for Juniper Crescent and Gilbeys Yard.”

The estates are either side of Chalk Farm’s Morrisons supermarket – which is currently closed and being redeveloped by the supermarket chain and housing firm Barratts. One of the biggest construction projects currently taking place in Camden, it includes more than 600 homes, with blocks rising as high as 14 storeys.

The works have led tenants in Gilbeys Yard to fear that they could be facing years of disruption if their estate is also flattened and rebuilt.

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