On Tuesday 20th August, Hackney Green Party led housing activists and community campaigners in protest against a multinational developer and the next stage of redevelopment of Woodberry Down estate. They met on the steps of Hackney Town Hall where a small number of residents are resisting a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
Berkley Homes and Town Hall have had a decade long partnership giving the multinational company reign to replace the existing 1940s heritage apartment tenements with high rise luxury flats.
Concerned for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the area, Liat Mordechai, Fabi Ahrain and Ugo Domizioli are resisting the CPO. Their worries stem from research done on the exploitative nature of the first two phases of the development. While 41% of the new homes were to be sold below market rate, Berkeley has delivered only 38% and 36%.
Mordechai explains that, “80% of the private homes [in the development] were sold to overseas investors. All of these land registries show a Chinese, Malaysian or Hong Kong owner. One investment company bought 147 flats and one entire building is owned by a Chinese national. All the advertisements in China show how much rental income they’ll receive from their investment”
The lawyer acting for the group, Christopher Jacobs, has remarked that, “The objectors are able to demonstrate that a significant purpose of the regeneration is to attract foreign investment.”
In addition, further concerns have been voiced by Dr Alex Armitage, a Green Party activist, that, “levels of carbon emissions that will be produced from this scheme are staggering. Continuation of the Woodberry Down redevelopment is not consistent with the climate emergency that was declared this year. Hackney Council is pumping tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere to kick council tenants out of their homes, break up communities and create investment opportunities for wealthy businesspeople. Meanwhile, the objective of affordable homes for Londoners remains as far off as ever. Instead we should be investing in our existing council housing stock and renovating buildings that have gone into disrepair.”
The downgraded tenancy that the council tenants face in the new development will make them liable for increased service charges and rental payments. “The investors are just exploiting the land and the lack of housing to charge more rent from low income people that can’t afford to buy a home,” says Morechai.
The Green Party has demonstrated its support to halting the further reduction in council homes through the actions taken.