Staying put in run-down London estate, residents resist demolition

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

15 PHOTOS
London residents resist demolition
See Gallery
London residents resist demolition
A window is seen inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A boarded-up stairwell is seen inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A bird flies over the skyline as seen from inside resident homeowner Beverley Robinson's window inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Resident homeowner Beverley Robinson poses for a photograph in the corridor outside her flat inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An abandoned playground is seen in the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An "I had a Dream" sign is seen inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Jean Bartlett, a tenant of the Aylesbury Estate, poses in her garden in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A dog is seen inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A map shows the layout of the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A block of flats is seen inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Abandoned satellite dishes remain attached to buildings inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Graffiti is seen inside the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man cycles through the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man walks through the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London, Britain October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez SEARCH "AYLESBURY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - You would never guess from inside Beverley Robinson's tidy flat, with its potted plants, family photos and panoramic view of London, that her building is awaiting demolition.

But the corridor outside is eerily quiet and the children's playground downstairs lies empty and overgrown. Most neighbors have left and their old flats are shuttered up to deter squatters.

The building is cut off from the street by a fence topped with sharp metal blades and manned by security guards. For the last few remaining residents, simple things like receiving deliveries have become arduous.

This is one of the flashpoints in London's housing crisis.

Unaffordable rents and long waiting lists for social housing have made it harder and harder for people on low incomes to find homes in London, where average property prices have risen by 90 percent over the past 10 years, far outstripping income growth.

Robinson and a few others are resisting a 1.5-billion-pound ($1.9-billion), two-decade scheme to flatten the dilapidated Aylesbury Estate, one of Britain's largest social housing projects, and build thousands of new homes in its place.

The rest of the estate remains fully inhabited, but the section where Robinson lives is being emptied because it is the first due to come down.

"I can't move because I've got nowhere to go," she said.

Robinson owns her flat and has lived in it for 28 years. She says the 225,000 pounds she has been offered for it by the local authority, Southwark Council, is nowhere near enough for her to buy a comparable property in the area.

The average price of a flat in Southwark is 470,000 pounds and has more than doubled over the past decade, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The council says homeowners like Robinson have been offered shared equity in new homes where they can live rent free. Robinson says the offer is unaffordable, and she wants the security of full ownership.

"They talk about this brand new sparkling development, but when you read the small print it's a different story," she said.

RELATED: Londoner's without a vote for Brexit

10 PHOTOS
Europeans living in London have Brexit views but no vote
See Gallery
Europeans living in London have Brexit views but no vote
Raluca Cioroianu from Romania poses for a photograph at the farm where she is a shop manager in Addlestone, Britain June 19, 2016. "I came here with good intentions, to work, to pay taxes, to improve my knowledge, my culture, and to make a better life," said Cioroianu. "I'm not ashamed to say that I'm from Romania." Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls 
Monika Cyrek, a Polish national who works in a grocery store run by her mother that sells mostly Polish products, poses for a photograph in Walton-on-Thames, Britain June 18, 2016. "If we're not wanted here, probably a lot of people will leave and try other places," said Cyrek. Picture taken June 18, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls 
Mihai Marcar, a Romanian waiter at a garden centre restaurant, poses for a photograph in Addlestone, Britain June 19, 2016. "I think there are a lot of people who are here illegally. For me that's the real problem, not the people who are working here, paying taxes, having a normal life," said Marcar. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls 
Simeon Simeonov, a Bulgarian car washer, poses for a photograph in Weybridge, Britain June 16, 2016. "They're thinking like in the last century," Simeonov said of those campaigning for a Brexit. He came to Britain with his wife, who is also Bulgarian, to give their two children a chance for a better life. His main fear about a Brexit is that it might stop them from continuing their education at a local British state school. Picture taken June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls 
Vera Pereira, a Portuguese double bass player with a British orchestra, poses for a photograph in Borough, London, Britain June 8, 2016. "Orchestras may not be able to tour as much. I'm afraid other countries in Europe won't listen to British orchestras as often and the world of music in Britain won't be as well-known as it is now. In 20 years we'll see the result," said Pereira. Picture taken June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls 
Svenja Schumacher, a German national working for a London financial services firm, poses for a portrait beside the River Thames with the London Eye wheel seen behind in London, Britain March 15, 2016. "I don't think it's fair that I don't have a vote. I pay taxes in Britain," said Schumacher. Picture taken March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Jessie Grimes, an Irish clarinettist, poses for a photograph in west London, Britain June 7, 2016. Grimes is concerned that a post-EU Britain may have to re-instate border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. "I can't see that going peacefully," she said, recalling the political violence that blighted Northern Ireland when she was a child. Picture taken June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Catarina Cardoso, a Portuguese academic specialising in climate change who lives in London with her German husband and their three children, poses for a photograph with her family in south London, Britain February 14, 2016. "Until now we were the same as everyone else, maybe a different accent, but it didn't seem to be an issue," said Cardoso. "Now you don't know whether you're welcome really." Picture taken February 14, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Paolo Esposito, an Italian national working in financial services, poses for a portrait on a footbridge over the River Thames in London, Britain March 15, 2016. "I wasn't expecting it to be so easy to settle. From simple things like bureaucracy, which is a lot more straightforward than in Italy, to people's attitudes towards foreigners. Looking back on it, it was less hassle than changing your gym," said Esposito. "I'm definitely settled, with a ring, a mortgage, a British baby." REUTERS/Toby Melville 
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

RARE VICTORY

She and seven other Aylesbury homeowners won a rare victory last month when the government blocked the forced purchase of their homes by the council, citing human rights concerns and saying the council had not sufficiently negotiated.

Southwark will go to court to challenge the decision, which it said jeopardized a scheme that will deliver quality affordable housing for thousands of Londoners.

Built in the 1960s and 70s, the Aylesbury has 2,750 homes, mostly in rows of monolithic grey blocks. Many residents say it has been a good home and community, but has suffered neglect.

"We've been reported as hell's waiting room but it's not true," said Jean Bartlett, a tenant for 40 years.

The council says the estate is poor quality housing. It has sold the site to a company that will build 3,575 new homes there, a mix of private homes for sale at market rates and others available to rent or part-buy under affordable schemes.

While the total number of homes on the site will rise, the number available at low social rents will drop by 40 percent.

Southwark says those losing their homes on the Aylesbury will be helped to find new ones, either as social tenants or as buyers. It says many residents support the scheme.

Bartlett, who chairs a residents' association, is one of them, even though her pristine ground-floor home with a large garden where she grows flowers and vegetables will eventually be demolished.

She said regeneration was residents' best hope of moving to better housing, but added that people felt very differently about the scheme depending on individual circumstances, such as whether they were tenants or homeowners.

"Some want it, some don't," she said.

Bartlett felt the bigger picture was that there just wasn't enough social housing in London, while private rentals were too expensive.

"I'm mortified about the housing crisis in London," she said. "I fear for my grandchildren." ($1 = 0.8042 pounds)

Read Full Story

Want more news like this?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from business news to personal finance tips delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

Find a New Home

Buy
Rent
Value
Powered by Zillow

From Our Partners

Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside
Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts
If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic