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Concern for families resident in England’s Lane Hostel

25 June, 2020

• I WRITE on behalf of some of the residents of England’s Lane Hostel, in Belsize Park, who are worried and concerned for their families’ futures.

The hostel is a one time NHS nurses’ residence that was leased by Camden Council to provide temporary accommodation, now mostly to single-parent families.

It was sold to a private company in 2015 and leased back to the council until 2021. The council has announced it will rehouse all residents by December 2020, as part of releasing the building back to the owner.

The flats themselves are old and cramped, lack facilities, need renovation, and are unsuitable for families. So the residents won’t be sorry to leave England’s Lane, but they are worried and concerned for their future.

Most of the 165 flats are empty, there are around 60 families still in the hostel, some who have been there for years, despite being moved “temporarily” all those years ago.

Camden Council public documents say that: “existing residents are being relocated to suitable, settled housing so that all remaining occupants have been helped to move by the end of Dec 2020” but, in practice, this has not been happening.

Some residents are being moved to council properties outside Camden, others to privately-owned flats both inside and outside the borough.

Given that so many of the families already met definitions of vulnerability when being housed in England’s Lane in the first place, and that these have been exacerbated by the effects of the lockdown and people losing their jobs and incomes, we ask the council to restate their commitment to relocate the residents to “suitable, settled housing”, with the emphasis on “suitable”.

Rumours have spread in the absence of reliable information and some residents think there is a December deadline for everyone to move, which is the council’s publicly-announced deadline, and some residents think the real date is September.

Also some residents report that the council have asked them not to talk to other residents about rehousing, and what the council have said to them.

Some of the residents have lived in Camden for more than 20 years, their children were born here, and only know Camden schools. Many have lost their jobs and incomes, adding to their stress and worry for the future.

Relocating these families to private accommodation is untenable in the medium and long term as they simply won’t be able to afford the rents and will eventually become homeless, back to where they were before being housed by Camden.

We’ve written to the councillors responsible for housing and regeneration, and Haverstock ward, and asked them to reconfirm the council’s commitment to finding “suitable, settled housing” for the residents.

Many of the options offered so far are neither suitable nor settled, and will have serious impacts on the wellbeing and welfare of the families involved.

For example, two families who are long-term Camden residents were asked to move to Manchester and Luton, but their children have lived in the borough all their lives.

Branch Secretary
Unite Community Camden


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