HACKNEY COUNCIL is preparing to abandon a sturdy Victorian house to demolition even though it is one of a set of six matching corner buildings at the heart of a conservation area.
The first part of the plan, exclusively revealed by Loving Dalston last week, is to evict the squatters who have lived at 5 St Mark’s Rise for three years and replace them with what are termed “property guardians” – in effect, licensed squatters.
Then Hackney Homes, the council’s housing arm, will sell the house to a private developer.
A town hall source has told Loving Dalston that fire damage has made the property “structurally unsound”. The inference from this is that the council is clearing the way for a future owner to demolish the house and build new flats.
It will try to make the loss of a large house more acceptable to Hackney residents, especially those living in the St Mark’s area, which has article 4 status – the highest conservation standard – by saying that the sale will fund the renovation of three other properties for letting to families on the housing list.
The council will not discuss claims that its leaving the house officially empty for many years is the prime reason for its decline.
A leading squatters’ advisory group, Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes (Squash), last week attacked the council’s St Mark’s Rise tactics.
It made further criticisms. Rueben Taylor, of Squash, said: “Cases such as those in this story are astounding in their hypocrisy, and in their frequency.
“Property-guardian companies have no interest in the well-being or quality of life of their ‘licensees’; they do not use the word ‘tenant’ as this would give them legal obligations).
“The eviction and attempted criminalisation of squatters will force even more people into the pockets of these modern-day slumlords.”
Hackney Homes declined to comment.
David Altheer 051011
* Update: squatters evicted
* All pictures on this page © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com. All for sale for reproduction. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing on them.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.