In December of last year, the New Era Estate took on a consortium of corporate interests. They won. Fighting for justice, the campaign used social media as a base for collectivized mobilization, welcoming all who believed in the basic right to a secure home.
While their victory was rightly celebrated, it marked the beginning, not the end, of a much larger story. The privately funded development of the West Hendon Estate in London currently threatens to force residents from their homes, tearing a line through the wealth of community ties built up over a number of years.
Janette Evans, chief organiser of a movement against the developments, is acutely aware of the threat that ‘West-Hendoners’ face.
“A critical issue facing the West Hendon Estate is the eradication of the community, facilitated by the theft of housing by Barnet Council.” The 680 properties that currently stand are signposted to be increased to 2000, of which just 18% will be social housing. “Barnet and Barratts say this figure will be 25%, but this is somewhat skewered as they have included the leaseholders in their calculations. At worst, less than 1/8th of current residents will be rehoused there”.
“The council have been moving homeless people onto the estate for years, creating up to 250 ‘temporary’ tenants”. Such a term poses a great risk to their security. The so-called ‘temporary’ status has no legal grounding, compromising the security of tenants who Ms. Evans argues face being “discharged into the private sector”.
“Private renting in Barnet is the 4th most expensive out of all 16 outer London boroughs, according to Barnet Council’s own statistics. It is unlikely that many of West Hendon’s tenants will be able to afford to stay and live in Barnet at all.”
Requests from West Hendon Estate campaigners for a Freedom of Information Report looking into the Viability Project from the developers have been persistently rejected. The lack of transparency from Barnet Council can, however, act as a mobilizing force for those fighting for social justice.
The West Hendon Estate therefore welcomes you to an Afternoon of Housing Activism on Thursday, 22nd January.
2-4pm – E15 mothers talk about their campaign. Find us at the Marsh Drive Community Centre, NW9 7QE.
4-5pm – Join us for home made soup and rolls, as we unveil our large campaign banner.
We will then march from the West Hendon Estate to the Public Inquiry at Hendon Town Hall.
Joining us will be the front-line campaigners from the New Era Estate, and speakers from an array of groups, including ‘Our West Hendon Group’, ‘Radical Housing Network’, and ‘Unite the Union’.
The afternoon will be a chance to showcase the active public support for affordable housing and entrenchment of community values. Taking heart from the success of the New Era Estate, all who are able to attend are encouraged to do so to help pressure change on what will be a great day for social justice.