CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘Daily battle’ to fix estate lifts in Gospel Oak estate

Tenants claim Town Hall has given up on repairs as homes could be demolished

12 March, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Wendling Estate

COUNCIL tenants on an estate in Gospel Oak fear the Town Hall has given up on repairs because their homes could be demolished.

Camden has earmarked the Wendling block and the West Kentish Town estate for a regeneration project under its Community Investment Programme.

The results of a ballot of residents over whether the work should go ahead will be known shortly.

In the meantime, however, people living there say they have a “daily ­battle” to get the lift fixed.

Anup Patel, vice-chair of Wendling Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (TRA) said: “They come and do temporary fixes but it breaks again. If we weren’t shouting about it they wouldn’t do anything about it. The attitude seems to be they don’t care, they’re going to knock it down anyway.”

The council say they seek to fix broken lifts “as soon as possible” but say it takes longer to replace broken parts of lifts from older buildings.

With a show of hands, tenants living in Wendling have previously passed a vote of no confidence in regeneration chief Councillor Danny Beales.

A group of residents in West Kentish Town has now followed suit with a similar vote.

Some opponents say they have criticised consultation over the regeneration and say they have been asked to vote without assurances over allocations once the estate is rebuilt.

Camden will add some private homes to raise money.

Wendling resident David Bachelor said: “There is every bit of space for them to build new flats rather than demolish ours. It’s going with some failed system.”

He called for answers from the council, adding: “It’s blatantly disrespectful. There should be one person we can go to for answers.”

The plans look to replace the existing 316 homes in West Kentish Town estate, of which 264 are council properties, with approximately 800 new homes.

Wendling currently comprises 241 properties. Plans show it will be rebuilt with 750 homes, 500 of which will be marketed privately.

Cllr Beales said: “Over the past two years, the council has been working in partnership with residents to develop plans to rejuvenate homes while also addressing specific local issues, such as overcrowding and resident safety.”

He added: “Through our extensive engagement so far, residents have been largely positive about these proposals, and we identified their preferred option was full estate redevelopment.

“We believe it is vital that residents are able to make key decisions in this process, which is why we are committed to giving residents the final say on whether to take forward the plans with a yes/no ballot at a time that is favoured by residents. It is residents themselves who will ultimately decide if the scheme does or doesn’t proceed.”

Housing chief Labour councillor Meric Apak said: “Since 2010 we have installed 352 lifts and have 81 lifts due to be replaced, meaning that we will have renewed 433 lifts [85 per cent] out of a total of 509 through our Better Homes programme. In parallel we have also been undertaking targeted lift refurbishments where required.”

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