Remember London’s E15 mums? Or the New Era Estate? Last year, protests against forced evictions in Newham and Hackney respectively made headlines, helped along by the attention of celebrities such as the increasingly problematic Russell Brand.
In the end, both scored victories of a kind: the E15 mums won the right to leave the estate they were occupying on their own terms, and the borough agreed that the empty houses would be turned into homes for the homeless. The New Era Estate, meanwhile, was sold to an affordable housing provider. And everyone else turned back to looking at cute animals riding other cute animals on the internet.
But these stories didn’t generate traction just because of their association with a longhaired libertine: they resonated because tales of Londoners forced out of their homes, or forced to leave the city altogether, have become so commonplace.
Hundreds of tenants and ex-tenants of estates around London are currently campaigning against evictions they believe to be unfounded, badly executed, or just plain unfair. Most want the right to be rehomed in the new development, or at least to be awarded new, permanent accommodation nearby. Here are just a few of them.
The Aylesbury Estate, Elephant & Castle
Image: Mkimemia at Wikimedia Commons.
The Aylesbury is one of the largest social housing estates in Europe, but, like the nearby Heygate, it’s earmarked for demolition prior to a £1.5bn regeneration project. Throughout February, protestors occupied parts of the estate as a way of fighting the evictions. On the 16th, six were arrested as police attempted to remove the final protesters from the property.
At time of writing, one block is still occupied, and residents are still appealing against Southwark’s possession order. Updates on the situation are regularly published here.
Sweets Way, Barnet
This 160-house estate was cleared out in February pending its sale. The evictions have been particularly hard on young families, as most residents were moved to emergency housing in places like Waltham Forest, Enfield and Luton – areas nowhere near their schools or work. Other tenants, meanwhile, have no option except to declare themselves homeless
This short documentary by filmmaker Barry Seddon documents the evictions and features several Sweets Way ex-residents:
About 200 families face eviction from the estate at the end of March, as the site has been sold to Barratt Homes. At present, the council plans to rehome tenants in temporary accommodation, but not necessarily nearby. Residents held a day of action against the evictions in January, and the Unite community coordinator said at the time:
We know from what happened at New Era that people can take on councils and the private landlords and win.
Community group Our West Hendon is also running a Change.org petition, calling for secure nearby residencies for rehoused tenants and/or the right for all members of the community to “remain and be rehoused on the West Hendon Estate”. At time of writing, it has over 130,000 signatures.
You know the story by now. The Guinness estate has been sold to developers, and the estate’s tenants are due to be evicted this coming April. Now, 15 tenants are squatting in an empty flat on the estate in protest.
As in the other estates, campaigners are pushing for the right to be rehoused in the new development, or at least in permanent accommodation as close by as possible. In February, they won the right for tenants to apply for homes in London, but still plan to campaign against further evictions. You can find further information and updates on the Guinness Occupation evictions here.
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