Council tenants, their families, friends and supporters from across south London will be marching on the plush West End offices of one of the country’s leading property companies tomorrow to protest against their local council outsourcing the destruction of their estates and communities to the hugely profitable commrcial estate agency.
According to one campaign group, estate agents Savills “win contracts to assess the very places they then put in applications to destroy”.
In Lambeth, opposition councillors are seeking to call-in the decision to award Savills a £6.7million deal for the estate agents to “assess” its housing estates before disposing of them.
The Save Central Hill Estate campaign group will be protesting tomorrow outside Savills headquarters, just off Regent Street (at 33 Margaret Street, W1G 0JD), from 2pm.
Croydon’s Labour-controlled council has handed the sale of some its publicly-owned housing stock to Savills, for auction at suspiciously low guide prices.
The arrangement with Savills in Lambeth is laden with obvious conflicts of interest that could cost the public many millions of pounds and see hundreds of council tenants lose their homes.
In a statement, the Save Central Hill Estate group said, “Savills devalues social housing when it assesses housing stock…
“They allow them to get insider knowledge as it plans to redevelop these sites. They do not take into account embodied carbon or have a retrofit policy. Clearly, [Savills is] not a company of the future.
“Savills helped set up Homes for Lambeth, Lambeth’s development company, which plans to destroy six estates.” Homes for Lambeth is a council-owned development vehicle with marked similarities to Croydon’s Brick by Brick, and we all know how well that worked out…
The campaigners highlight how ineffectual the Homes for Lambeth plans will be: “After 20 years, HfL will produce only 174 extra social, council-level rent homes, alongside 2,889 investment properties.
“They win contracts to assess the very places they then put in applications to destroy.
“They are a multi-million pound private development company and should not be in charge of deciding the fate of social housing stock.”
Meanwhile, the Green Party opposition group at Brixton Town Hall are demanding that the Labour-controlled council should revisit the decision to award the multi-million-pound housing services contract to Savills.
“This is not the first time Lambeth Council has awarded a contract to Savills,” the Grees said this week. “Notably, the company led controversial consultations early in 2020 that proposed the deeply unpopular demolition of buildings on Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill, which were strongly opposed by the communities who live there.”
The Greens say that there are concerns that the latest Savills deal represents a potential sign off by Lambeth Council for further demolitions, and they say that there has been a lack of transparency surrounding the procurement process. They say that the Lambeth Housing Standards Capital Works project has already been paid £35million by the council to carry out work which likely overlaps with Savills’ brief.
“Savills have demonstrated that their agenda is not aligned with that of the residents of Lambeth,” Pete Elliott, the Green Party councillor in Lambeth for his home ward of Gipsy Hill, told Inside Croydon.
“Residents want to see sustainability in their built environment, transparency in the council’s practices and want to be able to believe that those organisations that are being funded by the taxpayer have the taxpayers’ interests at heart.
“This work should be laying the foundations of a critical long-term programme of work to ensure our housing stock is fit for 2050 and beyond. It is irrational that the work should be outsourced when we will need the skills, knowledge and expertise within the council – £6.7million could be far better used to recruit an in-house team to work alongside the housing and sustainability teams.”
Read more: Londoners being priced out of London by social cleansing
Read more: Norwood residents ask MP Reed to act over estate demolition
Read more: Lambeth is showing the way with destruction of five estates
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