Achilles Stop and Listen Campaigns response to the resident’s charter

Many in our community will be excluded from the right to vote in a ballot by Lewisham Council this includes businesses and community groups who are under threat of demolition as part of the councils ‘regeneration proposals’.

This survey is on principles and has no details and without any details it is therefore meaningless. The survey is for the benefit of the council to pursue demolition and to reach their arbitrary targets at whatever the cost – it is not aimed to benefit residents/communities who will lose homes, green and community spaces, shops, and their livelihoods to have a genuine input and choice about what happens in their communities.

Here is Lewisham’s Survey: https://consultation.lewisham.gov.uk/strategic-housing-and-regulatory-services/residentscharter/

Here is Achilles response to the survey: achilles_stop_and_listen_survey_response

Below you can also read Achilles full response to Lewisham’s residents survey on balloting residents on estates:

Overview

 Who is the survey aimed at? It appears that the outcome has already been pre-determined.

The guarantees are not legally binding, which makes them meaningless.

There is no mention of the demolition of homes and the destruction of communities in the overview – it is referred to as ‘improving homes’.

The overview refers to ‘rights to remain’ and ‘genuinely affordable’ this is absolutely meaningless without any detail.

This survey is for the benefit of the council to pursue demolition and to reach their arbitrary targets at whatever the cost – it is not aimed to benefit residents/communities who will lose homes, green and community spaces, shops,   and their livelihoods.

 

Principle1

Before any estate regeneration, a Residents’ Ballot will take place to give you a say in the future of your neighbourhood. To help you make an informed decision, we will make you a formal offer – in writing – which you can then choose to accept or reject in the ballot.

 

Strongly disagree with the above

This isn’t about giving residents a genuine choice about what happens in their communities it’s about pushing demolition. Ballots should only be held when there are a range of different options, accompanied by detailed plans, for people to consider, for example refurbishment and infill with details on costing, time scales and all of the impacts (we want to see independent social, financial, environmental, equalities impact assessments)

Before a ballot there should be funds and resources made available for independent alternative residents/community led proposals, legal help and independent consultations.

All options including refurbishment and infill should be pursued by the council with the same amount of resources and time as the councils preferred choice of demolition so residents have a genuine choice.

 

 

Principle 2

We guarantee to build more homes for social rent. Any proposals for estate regeneration will be driven by our priority to increase genuinely affordable homes.

 

Strongly disagree with the above

This is a trick and meaningless question. Of course people want to see an increase in social housing but they don’t want to see whole areas erased. Perhaps ask – do you think we should use empty sites to build social homes (which clearly Lewisham is failing to do) or ask what residents think about your joint ventures with private companies to build homes for private rent? Or what they think about the demolition of structurally sound homes, small businesses, community organisation/groups and community gardens in areas with high pollution? Or ask do you think we should be investing in our communities instead of erasing them?

 

 
Principle 3

We will regularly communicate with all residents writing to everyone at least once every three months in the run up to a Residents’ Ballot and throughout the design, planning and eventual construction process, presenting transparent information that is accessible to everyone.

 

Strongly disagree with the above

This shouldn’t have to be principle –Lewisham should be communicating with residents regularly but fails to do so. Lewisham council does not have a good track record of communicating with residents in any kind of detail or with any degree of transparency.  Ballots should be held at the latest possible time when there are different, very detailed plans of all the options for example refurbishment, infill and with very detailed information including information on costing, time scales and all impacts including changes in tenancies, rent increases, or type of rent for example from Council rent to London Affordable rent All options including refurbishment and infill should be pursued by the council with the same amount of resources and time as the council’s preferred choice, namely demolition, so that residents have a genuine choice. Before any Ballot can take place funds and resources should be made available for independent alternative residents/community led proposals, legal help and independent consultations.

Transparency of all details involving and relating to developers, housing associations and other stakeholders involved in the estate regeneration should be communicated and independently scrutinised. All businesses and community organisations under threat of demolition including leasehold and freehold properties who are part of regeneration proposals should get a vote. Everyone who may lose their home; livelihood, community space should get a vote.

 

Principle 4

Everyone will have the opportunity to help shape the proposals and all estate residents will be encouraged to participate in the design process and nominate individuals to form a Residents’ Steering Group which will work alongside the Council’s design team to help inform decisions through the design, planning and construction phases.

 

Strongly disagree with the above

This another trick question assuming the outcome of a ballot is demolition. All options including refurbishment and infill should be pursued by the council with the same amount of resources and time as the council’s preferred choice of demolition so residents have a genuine choice before any ballot. Funds and resources should be made available for independent alternative residents/community led proposals, legal help and independent consultations so communities can have a genuine say and input into what happens in their communities.

 

Note* Further ballots should also be required when any aspect of the plans change.

 

Principle 5

If you are a Council tenant who wishes to stay, you will be guaranteed a new home at a social rent level, with the same tenancy conditions that you have today and a Housing Needs Assessment will ensure you are provided with a home that matches your requirements.

 

Strongly disagree with the above

Yet another trick question – it is totally meaningless without detail. The ‘guarantees’ referred to are not legally binding and therefore meaningless.

 

Principle 6

If you are a resident leaseholder or freeholder who wishes to stay, you will be guaranteed to remain in home ownership.

 

Strongly disagree with the above

This another trick question – it is meaningless without detail. Guarantees are not legally binding.

 

Principle 7

We will always strive to create and strengthen thriving communities that are inclusive and sustainable for existing and new residents, supporting new jobs, choice of shops, leisure and high quality open space wherever we can.

 

Strongly disagree with the above

This is vague and devoid of any meaning, typical of the rhetoric of regeneration speak.

 

Private Renters

Currently none of the draft principles that might make up the Residents’ Charter relate to private renters who may be living on an estate that could be regenerated to provide more homes. Do you think there should be a principle that relates to private renters in areas that could be developed?

 

Strongly agree

Everyone who is going lose their home should have a vote in a ballot regardless of tenure, how long they have lived there and their vote shouldn’t be dependent on them having been on the waiting list as your guidelines suggest. The right to participate in a ballot should be given to all private tenants, whether they are living in freehold or leasehold properties and irrespective of the length of the tenancy. All businesses and community organisations regardless of tenure that are under threat of demolition due to regeneration proposals should have the right participate in a ballot.

Are there any additional principles you would like to be included in a Residents’ Charter?

 

Ballots should only be held when there are a range of different options, accompanied by detailed plans, for people to consider, for example refurbishment and infill with details on costing, time scales and all of the impacts (we want to see independent social, financial, environmental, equalities impact assessments).

Before a ballot there should be funds and resources made available for independent alternative residents/community led proposals, legal help and independent consultations.

All options including refurbishment and infill should be pursued by the council with the same amount of resources and time as the council’s preferred choice of demolition so residents/communities have a genuine choice.

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Ballots response / Fundraising gig / updated Fact Sheet

Fundraiser at the New Cross Inn

This Sunday 13 May, 7-11 pm at the New Cross Inn. Thank you to No Social Cleansing in Lewisham for organising this, a great line up.

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Ballots

Here’s the Achilles response to Mayors consultation on ballots, submitted on 10 April 2018 in response to the consultation: Achilles Street Stop and Listen Campaigns ballots

https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/consultation-on-a-new-funding-condition-requiring-resident-ballots-in-estate-regeneration-schemes.pdf

Updated Fact Sheet

Updated Fact Sheet May 2018   Factsheet May 2018

Notes and sources Fact Sheet May 2018 Factsheet Notes & Sources May 2018

 

 

“Most laundrettes are surviving because they are in council properties and have a reasonable rent”

Anita Strasser is a Deptford resident and PhD student at Goldsmiths. Anita is writing a blog called Depford is changing about the ‘regeneration’ of the area . Anita has spoken to some residents and businesses in the Achilles Street area- we are sharing the posts here.

Here is a link to the blog:  https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/

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Angelo is the owner of the Launderette on 369 New Cross Road. He comes in especially to have a chat with me about the demolition plans in New Cross, and together we go to Mughead Coffee where the staff seem to know exactly how he likes his coffee. He chats with Mark for a bit, the business owner – they seem well acquainted – before we sit down to talk about the Launderette. “The Launderette itself has been here since the early 60s and used to be a Father & Son operation with other Launderettes in New Cross and other areas”, Angelo explains. Then, in the early 90s, Angelo’s brother Joe bought the one on New Cross Road, did a lot of refurbishing work to it and replaced the old machines with newer versions, and then, several years later, Angelo took over in 2008. “It’s a contagious disease, I’m not joking”, he laughs, and tells how many of his family and friends have become involved with Launderettes. “It all started with my brother dating a girl whose father was of Italian origin and owned a string of Launderettes. The relationship didn’t last but my brother thought ‘I’ll try that’.” His brother has since bought a few, including one on Jamaica Road which is now owned by Angelo’s nephew. Even Angelo’s best friend, a former banker who had a midlife career crisis, unsure what to do, took his girlfriend to Nottingham to live above the Launderette he now owns.

laundrette_2

But being in the Launderette business doesn’t make you rich. “There is no growth”, Angelo explains. “A Launderette business doesn’t grow like other businesses do, and it doesn’t have a high turnover. You can’t pay the high rents big restaurants can pay for example, and most Launderettes are surviving because they are on good locations in council properties and have a reasonable rent. About four or five businesses on this parade are still on old tenancies and once the new development is here, the rent price will be double if not triple. Launderettes are viable businesses only because of low overheads. What kills them is the high market rates.” So, even if Angelo was offered new premises in the new development, the overheads would be too high to run it.

laundrette_3

Interestingly for me, there is still demand for Launderettes. “Not everybody’s got a washing machine, but even if people do”, Angelo says, “there’s still a demand which has nothing to do with people’s class position. The association of Launderettes with merely the working-class and people in social housing is outdated – we have customers from all walks of life. The demand today is due to convenience: the machines we have can handle high capacity and the laundry can dry quickly, so the whole laundry can be done in an hour. Drying is a particular issue today. Many live in small flats with no space or facility to dry clothes so coming to a Launderette solves that problem.” In Angelo’s Launderette the water is also treated before it’s used and people notice the change in the fabric, another reason, according to Angelo, why his Launderette is doing good business. “If the Launderette closes, people will have to travel further for this convenience”, making this convenience less convenient.

Angelo agrees that the parade needs investment but that this is due to the council not having done a lot for its upkeep. “It’s a nice parade but it’s stuck in the 60s”, Angelo states. Lewisham Council did commission the artist group ARTMONGERS a couple of years ago to spruce up the parade a bit and to paint work along the road. They came into the shops asking people what they’d like to see. Also Angelo was asked and together with the artist they designed the shop front we see today. “It really takes an artist to see things from a different perspective. I was just going to suggest some writing to advertise the services but the artists said no, we need something more interesting and then he came up with the design you see today. It really makes a difference”, Angelo says. But that’s all that’s been done it seems, and Angelo thinks that Lewisham council doesn’t involve itself much in making the parade look nicer. “Lewisham Council is more concerned with housing and the plans I’ve seen – 5-storey blocks across the whole parade starting from The Venue – this is huge! And I’m pretty certain the development plans will go ahead.” According to Angelo, the council have offered funding to relocate but despite this offer, Angelo doubts he’ll be able to set up again. “First, the business will be closed for a couple of years and then I need funds to re-invest in a new business. Also, will there actually be the chance of getting a unit on the new development and if so, it’ll be at full market rent which will be double or triple to what I pay now. I won’t set up another Launderette”, Angelo concludes.

laundrette_4

After our chat we walk back to the Launderette where we meet Nicola, one of Angelo’s employees who would presumably lose her job if the Launderette were to close. Angelo and Nicola seem to have a very friendly relationship, laughing and joking about being photographed, and together I photograph them in the Launderette.

Photos and Text by Anita Strasser

https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/most-laundrettes-are-surviving-because-they-are-in-council-properties-and-have-a-reasonable-rent/

Update

Lack of communication from Lewisham

We have repeatedly asked Lewisham to send out an update letter about what’s going on to all residents, businesses, freeholders to update us all. We haven’t received anything yet although we were told three months ago we would receive some information at the beginning of January!

Most Saturdays

We are on Deptford Market with a mini stall from 12-2pm with other local housing campaigns.

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Ballots

Sadiq Khan is proposing all estates undergoing regeneration who receive GLA funding should be balloted before demolition. There is currently a consultation on this by the mayor – the Mayors draft guidelines exclude non resident freeholders, businesses, private tenants from a vote, we are challenging this in our response to the consultation as the Achilles street area is made up of a mix of tenures.https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/consultation-on-a-new-funding-condition-requiring-resident-ballots-in-estate-regeneration-schemes.pdf

New Cross and Deptford Free film Festival

Achilles Campaign has joined with Tidemill/Reginald Rd Campaign and Sanford housing Co-op to programme screenings on ‘displacement and regeneration’ as part of the film festival.  Achilles Campaign are hosting screenings at New Cross Learning and Green Onions ( see below)

flyerMonday

 

 

“The council has not fulfilled their part of the deal”

Anita Strasser is a Deptford resident and PhD student at Goldsmiths. Anita is writing a blog called Depford is changing about the ‘regeneration’ of the area . Anita has spoken to some residents and businesses in the Achilles Street area- we are sharing the posts here.

Here is a link to the blog:  https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/

“The council has not fulfilled their part of the deal”

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Emma Zhang is the owner of YIP Oriental Store on 361 New Cross Road, a shop which will be demolished if the redevelopment plans for this area are going ahead. Emma has had her shop for 7 years during which she has built it up to a thriving business which has a good customer base, particularly with students from Goldsmiths. The shop serves local students but also the Chinese and Japanese student communities, and many of the students signed the petition to stop the demolition of the shop because it would mean that they would lose the store where they buy their products. Emma has built up a very good relationship with all her customers, who, according to her, are very kind people and often come in every day. Some of her customers have become friends over the years as well.

“We don’t want them to knock down the buildings. The council posted a letter and then we had a meeting in Deptford Green School where we told them that we’re not happy about the plans. This is about 2 years ago, and we haven’t had confirmation yet about what’s going to happen. Demolition will be very expensive and really affect our business, and there is no guarantee that we will be able to move back or stay in the New Cross area. We have invested a lot of money in setting this up and if we have to find another location, this will lose us earnings and we’ll have to invest more to set up again. It’s unlikely we would be able to stay in this area, and so we would lose all our customers as well. We would have to start afresh.”

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Emma agrees that the area is and looks run-down and needs refurbishing. She and her colleague also have experience of knife-crime in the area, and the shop has been robbed a few times. Just 3 days before I met with her, somebody tried to break into the shop again. She says the area is dangerous and that there is not enough police presence in the area, not enough CCTV and not enough protection for local residents or businesses. However, Emma does not think that this is a reason to demolish the existing blocks and shops as the run-down character and dangerous feel is due to the council’s neglect of the area.

“We have an agreement, a contract with the council. As tenants we have to look after our property inside, and it’s the council’s responsibility to maintain the outside and the building with the rent we pay. We have paid our rent, and before we opened the shop years ago, we changed the terrible shopfront into a much nicer one so it looks much better now. But the council has not fulfilled their part of the deal which is to look after the outside. Maintenance and regular repairs cost much less than to redevelop everything. If a little money had been invested over the years, the area wouldn’t be in such a state now. You could improve the area a lot by refurbishing and looking after it rather than demolishing everything.”

 

Emma also says that the council needs to consider the local area more: “It’s quite a special area with lots of interesting people who come into the shop. We also have many working-class people who shop in here. If you build more properties, the rents are going to be more expensive. The developers are promising people that they will have the same conditions afterwards and people might think ‘oh great, I’m moving into a nice flat in a new development for the same price’ but they just don’t realise that prices will go up in the near future and that the service charges for shared equity properties are really high. We’ve seen this happening in other areas.”

Photos and Text by Anita Strasser

https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/i-have-stopped-making-plans/

 

Deptford is changing

Anita Strasser is a Deptford resident and PhD student at Goldsmiths. Anita is writing a blog called Depford is changing about the ‘regeneration’ of the area . Anita has spoken to some residents and businesses in the Achilles Street area- we will be sharing the posts here.

Here is a link to the blog:    https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/

 

“I have stopped making plans”

Below Anita’s post about the wonderful Delicious Cafe:

Teyfik Taghan is the manager of Delicious café on 365 New Cross Road. The current owner and team have been here for more than 2 years (coming up to three years soon). They are not happy about the plans, and whilst nothing has been finalised yet, the impact of the proposed plans is already felt. Teyfik explains:

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‘The team here have worked hard to build up the business which is going really well. We all have families to look after and bills to pay, and running this business has enabled us to do that. When we came here, nobody said anything about the redevelopment plans. We have never received a letter from the council about the demolition. Some time ago, the developers sent a letter announcing the plans. When I called them, they said they have plans but need time to work on them. How long, we don’t know.’

Teyfik and the team are not happy about the plans as it would mean losing their business and having to start all over again. Over the years, the team have built up very good relationships with their customers, which they see as very important. Some of the regular customers are teachers and pupils from Deptford Green School and Goldsmiths students. Teyfik recognises most faces and some contacts have even developed into friendships. Sitting in the café for some time, you can tell Teyfik has a very good relationship with his customers by the way he talks to them.

Losing the business would have devastating consequences for him and his team, but even without the plans having come into fruition yet, the impact is already felt. ‘I have a family to worry about. I have 4 kids and I feel really settled here. I had lots of plans for my life: we wanted to go on holiday, send the kids to a good school to provide them with a better future. But now, I have stopped making plans because we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know whether we’ll be here another year, 2 years, 5 years. It’s like with Brexit: people don’t know whether to stay or leave, whether to invest or not, buy a house or not. We’re in limbo, unsure of what to do. Anyway, if we lose the business, we will have to start all over again.’

Teyfik also says it’s not just about him. The rest of the team are in the same situation, they all have families and feel the same about being here. Finally, he concludes: ‘I’m very happy here. I love this place, I love the people here. I really want to stay.’

Photos and Text by Anita Strasser

https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/i-have-stopped-making-plans/

Today Sunday 12 November

Achilles Stop and Listen Campaign update:

Mayor and Cabinet

Achilles is off the agenda again at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting. No new date given at the moment.

Sunday 12 November

Party in the Park are having their AGM and community afternoon at the Moonshot Centre, Fordham Park. FREE Music / Food / Banner Making

Time: 2- 5 pm

We are going to be making banners and placards with Achilles Fanzine and talking about the Achilles campaign.  If you are free please do pop by and say hello or help out, make a banner, All very welcome



Also on Sunday 12 November

No Social Cleansing in Lewisham bands in support of local housing Campaigns

Venue: The Bird’s Nest pub,32 Deptford Church St, Deptford

Potent Whisper – razor-sharp political spoken word artist

Ukadelix – local ukulele group  

and many many more…..

Time: 6- 11pm, Free All very welcome

FOI Request

We put in a freedoom of information request for the rental and service charge income for the blocks currently in the Achilles regeneration proposals : Austin House, Azalea House, Fenton House, 363 Maisonettes and businesses,  for the past six years.

And for the amount spent on maintenance and repairs for the past six years.

Rent and service charge income total for the 4 blocks (for the last 6 years) £2,601,009

Repairs and Maintenance spend (for the last 6 years)  £238,899

Here is a break down of the information FOI income and expenditure

 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/achilles_income_from_rent_and_se?nocache=incoming-1054870#incoming-1054870

 

Campaign Afternoon

Saturday 16 September

Time:    5 pm (Film starts at 5.30 )

Venue:  New Cross Learning, 283-285 New Cross Road

 We are launching Achilles Fanzine ( 2nd print run )

Information will be available about the campaign ahead of Lewisham going to Mayor and Cabinet on 4 October ( See below).

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We will be showing the critically acclaimed film:

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle  

Refreshments and short discussion after the film

Free

 All Welcome

Lewisham are still planning on going to Mayor and Cabinet on Wednesday 4th October with their proposals to demolish the Achilles Street area. At the meeting on the 4th they will decide whether or not to proceed with the plans for demolition and redevelopment. If you want to raise objections or concerns about the demolition of homes, businesses and community organisations or about the destruction of the local community then write to or email your local councillors, MP and the Mayor and Cabinet and let them know. See below for email and postal addresses of local councillors, MP and the Mayor and Cabinet.

Lobbying Info