“950 HOMES PLANNED FOR CENTRAL HILL – AND WE COULD BUILD OPPOSITE THE VICARAGE”

Here is the conversation between Cllr Murphy and the brother and sister in which Fiona Cliffe also participated: (Bold type by News From Crystal Palace)

Luke – I brought Fiona so that we could talk in more detail about your housing situation and the situation on the estate.

Barbara – That’s alright.

Luke – It’s up to you really. I don’t know whether that’s helpful or you feel that you know what’s going on.

Barbara – Well, they tell you different things, don’t they. I think they’ve made up their minds.

Fiona – Yeah, yeah, they have. I mean I can give you a sort of potted history but the other thing as well, in terms of, I work for the Council and obviously Luke is a Councillor but we also have independent advisors who are PPCR so if you wanted to talk to someone separate from the Council then maybe you can make an appointment and we’ll give you the contact details. But if you’re happy for me to be here, that’s fine.

Barbara – Yeah, yeah.

Luke – So obviously, I want to reiterate what I said in my letter; obviously, I regret the misunderstanding that’s occurred and obviously I passed on what I said in my statement in good faith to cabinet based on the conversation I understood Jennifer had with you and I suppose it would be good to get a sense from you about your views on the actual proposals and then if you want to talk about your housing situation with Fiona, you can – you don’t have to do that now, you can do that another at another point if you want to.

Fiona – Yeah, yeah.

Luke – It’s in your hands really.

Fiona – Do you want me to give you a potted history of where we are?

Barbara – Yeah, go on then.

Fiona – Right. I was just talking to Luke and saying how long I’ve been here. Two years. In relation to…… Cabinet made a decision back in March to redevelop the estate. So that was the decision. We then had a scrutiny after that which obviously is what Luke was talking about. Then we had this period where potentially there could have been a legal challenge. We’re through that now so what we’ve actually got is a decision to redevelop the estate. It’s not going to happen overnight so where……….

Barbara – They’re saying 2019…..

Fiona – Yeah. And that’s if we can create the capacity on the estate, which I think we can. I’m not an architect and I’m not a developer but again that’s why we want residents to……

Barbara – Why don’t they just refurbish it?

Fiona – Well, that’s what the problem is, in terms of – well there’s three things in relation to…. First of all, Lambeth hasn’t got the money in terms of to actually do a refurbishment.

Barbara – I would think it was more expensive……

Fiona – No, and it’s one of those weird things in terms of – Lambeth as a council, in terms of they can’t borrow any more money…they haven’t got the money and they can’t borrow any money. But if we set “Homes for Lambeth” up, and they can actually borrow money. So I can understand what you’re saying, when refurbishment has to be cheaper than knocking down and starting again but it’s almost like two separate budgets and obviously we need houses; we need more housing and the other thing is; the big thing is in terms of when it was identified right the way back in November 2014, it’s also, you know putting those two things together, and also in terms of, capacity for more homes. That’s where we are.

Barbara – Are they going to build high rise blocks?

Fiona – No…what we’re….that’s what…..nothing’s been decided. So bottom line, which is part of the cabinet decision, and obviously Karen’s been through the whole situation with the Residents Engagement Panel, is what Cabinet decided is the number of units will double,..at least. That is an absolute minimum. So, and what we actually looked at, is we’re looking at probably heights of block, probably about six storeys. It’s not saying there’s not going to be some higher, but we’re not looking at 20 storeys or anything like that. And also, in terms of anything that’s designed has to get the approval from planning.

So planning probably wouldn’t want twenty storeys or whatever. But it is going to be increased density.

Barbara – So, are they all going to be like that? Or what are they going to be like? Maisonettes like we’ve got now?

Fiona – Well, maisonettes and flats. If you’re talking about a block, it’s less likely to be houses. There might well be….we haven’t worked out the design yet. We want residents to be a part of that. There might be some houses round the periphery of the estate, just where it’s sort of opposite houses, like on Roman Rise? Or opposite the vicarage, or something like that? We don’t know. So, where we are in the process is, we haven’t got a design, which is what you were saying; have we got houses, have we got maisonettes or whatever. What we have is we’re appointing what’s called a Development Management Team.

Fiona – so for the majority of people the big thing that is the architect. There will be a lot more engagement as well going on including we want to get benefits for residents. We don’t just want 4 walls and a roof, we want socio-economic benefits, employment training, community, lots of things that residents will benefit from. Again we’ve had residents involved in the appointment and probably about, in the next month or two, we’ll know who those architects are actually going to be. And then we want to start talking to residents about the design of the estate going forward. So it’s a blank sheet of paper and we’ve also got a part of the consultation would be through a process as well, we’ve got what’s called a Residents Design Brief.  Some of the things which are different in terms of views of London, keeping the estate green, things like that. The architects will be working with that statement in terms of what residents want. The other issue in relation to what actually happened as well is as soon as we got a Cabinet decision members said the people who wanted to actually move off permanently and for the majority of people that is going to be within Lambeth or even temporarily and maybe come back later. They could start the process of bidding. We sent out lots of letters to people to actually say if you want to move off and we’ve got someone who can actually help with that process, a gentleman called Paul. He’s down here every Tuesday. What we can do is we can guarantee that part of that and because the council is telling you you have to move there’s compensation which is £5800. Its set by government it’s not set by the Council. Also the cost of moving. So people can opt to come back or move away but for a lot of people it might well mean, talking to Karen and other residents on the estate, and these people like Central Hill. People like Crystal Palace.

Barbara – it’s a nice area.

Fiona – so lots of people will probably move straight from what they’re in into a new property. The only problem is if we start building something in 2019 you’re probably looking about 18 months minimum for a completion. The council have to maintain the properties up to the point a section is handed over to Homes for Lambeth. So what will actually happen, what we won’t be doing is we won’t be doing any major investment. They will repair as much as possible but beyond that they’re going to have to look at doing more. Things like kitchens and bathrooms will be repaired as much as possible.

Barbara – we’ve spoken about new kitchens and bathrooms. Other people have got them and that’s what we want.
 
Fiona – and that’s what a lot of residents have actually said. Why did Central Hill, when it was Lambeth Living they thought they had the funding to do all the properties. Things cost more. They took longer and Central Hill didn’t get done.
 
Barbara – we were the last ones to get the windows.

Fiona – I don’t know why it was Central Hill that didn’t get done as part of that programme but now we find ourselves in a situation where the funding isn’t there for the full refurbishment. And the situation’s been getting worse because with everything, cutbacks, not so much in terms of what actually happened is Lambeth will collect the rent but the rents are actually going down over 4 years. So the money coming in is less than we thought and what they’re doing is costing more. So that’s why we’re here. We’re here because there isn’t the money to do the refurbishment. We’ve costed it up but even that wouldn’t have addressed lots of the issues on the estate. So from your perspective of in terms of…it really is what you want and when you want it. .Nothing’s going to happen until year 10. You can be here. We’ll come and talk to you again, we’re looking at starting what’s called the Housing Needs Survey. We’ll probably start that in autumn but we’ll do it section by section so its going to take us quite a long time to do and then we’ll come and talk to people about their options. We’re not going to write in stone I want to move off. I want to stay. It’s for you to think about things and the reason we need to know what people are considering is when we actually start developing properties.

Barbara – Right…

Fiona – don’t take away from the fact that its people’s homes and people’s lives. It is difficult. Also even if people wanted to move it would be difficult.

Barbara – its just all that upheaval.

Fiona – we can help with that but its still you that’s got to do it.

Luke – you can’t get away from that

Barbara – we don’t really want to move out of the area, Crystal Palace, doctors and everything else. We don’t want to move.

Fiona – Paul is more of an expert than me on the housing side, the rehousing side.

Barbara – I was born round here. I’ve always lived here.

Fiona – and our problem is we were just talking about it the other day, in terms of where we are we’re right at the south of Lambeth. The other side of the road is Croydon. If you want to stay in the area you’ve got to go slightly north or to Streatham in relation to – if you were living in the centre you’d have a whole circle.

Barbara – its like five boroughs here

Fiona – so you can think about that but you can change your mind in relation and circumstances might change. And there’s other options in terms of different types of houses. Some of the things we might look at in terms of older people, you are living at this end of the estate, its actually quite accessible for you to get to the triangle.

Barbara – yes that’s what I’m saying, the bus stop opposite is so convenient.

Fiona – lots of people who are at that end, older people actually get a bus from the bottom of the estate up to the Triangle.

Barbara – that’s just one stop.

Fiona – we know that. So it might be… well lucky that when we look at a local lettings plan,  we could look at something. Nothing’s been developed yet and we do want to talk to people. When we’ve got the architects on what we’re having as a design group we’re just going to set that up. That’s going to be at the beginning of September. You’re going to get a newsletter about that and as soon as we’ve got the development team which includes the architect we’ll click in and we’ll be talking to people and they can put their options in terms of what they actually think it will look like. It’s going to be a minimum of double density. It’s going to be an additional 460 properties; there are 2 hostels, nuclear bunker, a shop, a housing office, day centre and a doctor’s surgery; things that people…. We know its 460 properties at least that are home owners and tenanted, they’re going to increase by a minimum of 500 to 750 which I don’t think it will go that high but that’s the parameters set in the cabinet report.
 
Luke – 950

Fiona – increasing by 750.

Barbara – there’s about 400 families now.

Fiona – 460 households that we’ve got tenanted and home owners. There’s a lot of land that is under used on the estate but we can look at that with residents and we can talk about –

Barbara – so when they do pull them down they’ll only do half –

Fiona – it will be phased. Its too big to do in one go.

Barbara – that’s what I’m saying. They’ll only do part at a time. Then those people would obviously have to go into temporary accommodation the first people that move out

Fiona – no no no. Remember what we’re trying to say is we’re trying to create part of the estate where –

Barbara – so you’ll be building them before people move out

Fiona – that’s what we want to do. We want to create capacity on the estate. I’ve got ideas but I’m not an architect or an engineer. I think the engineering because it’s a hill as well, we’ll try and build so people don’t have to move twice. That’s what we’re trying to do. If you have to move temporarily, which of course no one has to, then they will have a contract that they can actually come back and we will be building a home for you. But there’s other options as well there’s other options in terms of – there’s different types of housing as well. Older people’s houses and sheltered accommodation. You might not want to consider it now but it might be something further down the line. There’s lots of different options.

Barbara – he’s 75 in 3 or 4 years time.

Fiona – then what we can do if you like Central Hill you stay and we move you straight into something new. I can’t tell you in terms of what that will be. I don’t know what’s going to be first and what’s –

Barbara – we’ve got mice.
 
Fiona – have you reported them.

Barbara – yes we keep reporting them.

Fiona – is it the pipes

Barbara – apparently they’re coming in, the old central heating. So the council – I want it all boarded in, boxed in, but they don’t do that any more.

Fiona – don’t they

Barbara – so what am I supposed to do

Luke – this is something that I can pick up

Barbara – its been going on since last year. February last year. Now someone said the council must have planted them because we’ve lived here 40 years and nothing’s happened until they said they were going to pull the places down.

Luke – has someone been to visit

Barbara – apparently they’ve done all the holes and put wire wool and now in my bedroom you can feel the pipes so I put all wire wool across and wood in front but I can still hear them at night scuttling. Keeping me awake

Fiona – the problem is you might have the mice go from your property to somebody else’s and someone else has got a property and they’re coming back.

Barbara – because of the mice. She had them first at number 6.

Fiona – I’ve got a cat and I’ve seen him with a rat

Barbara – but then they bring the dead mice in. everyone says we’ll get a cat but –

Fiona – Luke can take that up

Barbara – I want them to box the old central heating in. I won’t be happy until – I found a dead one in the kitchen on Friday. We went on holiday about 6 weeks ago and when he came back there was a dead one on the stairs. I don’t know where they’re coming from because they’re supposed to have done all the holes.

Fiona – we can report that back

Barbara – can you report that as well. Then I’d be happy to live here. At the moment I’m afraid of going to bed; I can hear them scuttling sometimes behind the boards. It keeps me awake sometimes.

Fiona – I was at my house and a friend was round and my cat just brought this rat in and it dropped this live rat in front of us and we had to – and then a week later I found it, the smell was awful.

Luke – we’ve got mice in our flat which we can’t get rid of. They keep coming into the kitchen

Barbara – we’ve had them climbing up the curtains. We hadn’t seen any for about 6 weeks after we came back from holiday but then we found a dead one in the kitchen. So I don’t know where they came from.

Fiona – do you want someone to give you a ring

Barbara – yes. We keep on having the pest control people down. Then the people from the council come, Mears come and do the holes and put wire wool in and stuff like that and apparently they’re all filled in but then we still – that’s the only thing. I am a bit nervous at the moment.

Fiona – I’m at the office on Tuesday. What I’ll do is email them anyway and Tuesday I’ll actually talk to somebody. I’ll give you a ring. We’re going to be visiting you on Tuesday. I’ll tell you why in a minute. What’s your telephone number.

Barbara – 0208******* If we’re not here leave a message.

Fiona – my number’s on everything as well. I’ll ring you back on Tuesday. At least I’ll tell you what’s happening.

Barbara – when they do come we have to wait 3-4 weeks before anyone comes and does anything. That’s the only thing;  I’m a bit nervous at the moment.

Luke – is there anything apart from the mice that we can –

Barbara – not really. We’re happy to live here.

Fiona – we’ll come and talk to you.

Barbara – I keep seeing shadows. It’s all in my mind.

Fiona – we’re going to knock on you next week, we’re delivering an invite. We’re going to have a coffee morning down at the Resource Centre again. Also so people can bring their memories of Central Hill and Crystal Palace.

Barbara – I was born in gipsy hill.

Fiona – we’re going to do that….

Luke – whereabouts

Barbara – opposite the church. There was flats there. Not council they were private.

Fiona – since you’re over 65 we’re going to have another coffee morning. I think we’re starting that thing abut getting people talking about (a) what it was like and also we can pick out what good design features are or not. Things like that. We’re just going to be delivering a leaflet for you on Tuesday as well. The main thing is don’t worry and you will. If you do worry I’m Fiona, I work for the council. You’ve got the independent advisers. Also in terms of talk to us in relation to what your position is. We don’t always have a magic wand in terms of – whether I can get rid of your mice I don’t know but at least I can go back and try.

Barbara – they just told me they don’t box them in any more the old central heating. I mean its ridiculous. It’s where the mice are coming from originally.

Luke – have your neighbours complained as well about it. I know one has a cat.

Barbara – to the council

Luke – yes

Barbara – when I go down the office and complain all they say is get a cat. Then you have to wait 4 weeks before someone comes in and I think the bloke who was in charge down there came once and he said we don’t box them in, just fill the holes in. but they’re supposed to have filled all the holes in but we’re still getting them.

Fiona – as I say I can find out what’s going on and then I can report back to you in relation to what’s going on. Have you got anything else, any questions on anything.

Barbara – Not really no.

Fiona – and if you do have questions come back.

Barbara – I can’t think of anything at the moment.

Fiona – just all us or call Karen who knows the independent advisers as well. There’s also in terms of if things have been said on the estate and you want to check, independent advisers or us. We’re trying to put lots of information out. There’s a newsletter been going out in terms of what’s actually happening and we’ve actually got your neighbour getting involved as well in terms of trying to….

Luke – anything you want you’re got my contact details.

Fiona – if you do it as a member’s enquiry it will have a bit more weight

Luke – I’ll forward you a copy of that email that I send them. They should reply within 10 working days or we’ll try and get someone along a lot quicker than 4 weeks.

Barbara – yes because its ridiculous.

Fiona – again if you want to be involved in the design process, picking up what you’re saying if you’re older this end of the estate is actually –

Barbara – yes if you live down there you have to get a bus up the hill

Fiona – that’s okay if you’re at the top then if you’re down further down

Barbara – we’re lucky here I can just walk along to the shops. It’s all on the level.

Luke – thanks for your time and if there’s anything you want to raise with us do get in touch. As I said in my letter I am sorry for the upset I caused.

Fiona – myself and my colleague, she’s down at the resource office, we’ll be down at the resource centre in a minute. We’re on the estate every Tuesday. At the moment we’re in the housing office. We’re going to start going back to the resource centre. So again the problem is you don’t get many people passing down there but we do come out and talk to people as much as we can.

Luke – thanks for having us. If anything comes up again I’m regularly in the area. We can just pop round again. Fiona is here every Tuesday.

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