Five houses that were up for sale have been withdrawn by Lewisham Council on Monday after protesters occupied the properties on Saturday
The protesters, from Lewisham People Before Profit, are calling for them be kept as council housing. They say refurbishing these houses and keeping them in the council’s portfolio will revitalise housing in the community and the local economy.
The properties on 58 Friendly Street, 7 Angus Street, 61 Lampmead Road, 81 Etta Street and 128 Albyn Street were occupied after people from Lewisham People Before Profit (PBP) hid after an open viewing at three of the properties. Entry was gained to the other two through open windows.
Contrary to a report by the Evening Standard, Lewisham PBP have told EastLondonLines that there was no confrontation when the squatters occupied the buildings.
Lewisham PBP argue that all the homes could be made suitable for family’s to rent with one needing only: ” a lick of paint and the installation of a bath or shower.” They say that with such a shortage of housing in the area it is a “disgrace” the council wants to sell them off.
John Hamilton, Secretary and Campaign Manager for Lewisham PBP, said that refurbishment of these properties could also help give those with qualifications, but little experience, a chance to develop their skills.
“If the Council looked at this in a more imaginative way then it could help to provide much needed jobs for local businesses as well as housing for the community.”
Lewisham Council have said they are disappointed with the action of the squatters and said in a statement:
“Given its limited funds, these properties are uneconomic for the Council to repair. Instead, the Council intends to sell these properties to release much needed funds to bring other council properties, which are legally occupied and in better repair, up to decent homes standard.”
According to professional estate agents among the campaigners, the refurbishment costs for some of the houses is much less than Lewisham Council are saying that it would cost.
According to PBP, the council have set the cost as £40,000; this is also the amount they say is needed to keep a homeless family in a B&B for one year.
According to a leaflet they are distributing there are currently 350 families living in B&Bs.
A video made by the occupiers shows the properties they are occupying are in various states of disrepair.
The property in the worst condition, on Lampmead road, has been empty for eight years and has no internal pipe work or electricity.
Lewisham PBP have said that along with an electrician and a plumber they will be holding their own refurbishment of this property this weekend.
They are calling for volunteers to come between 11am and 3pm to 61 Lampmead Road on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 February to help the clear up.
EastLondonLines have previously reported on the neglect shown by Goldsmiths College in regards to properties in the New Cross area.