Sutton Council accused of trying to get homeowners out on the cheap as another CPO looms
Sutton Council has again been accused of forcing residents whose homes they want to redevelop to sell up on the cheap.
People who bought flats on Corbet Close in Hackbridge have been told the council wants to knock down four blocks of flats so it can build new houses.
The four sites, which are off Hackbridge Road, contain 72 flats, 15 of which are privately owned.
Of the 15 private leaseholds, only two have been sold back to the council since it decided to sign an agreement with its development partners in 2005 to redevelop the site.
As a result on Monday the council's main decision-making body, its strategy and resources committee, approved taking out Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to force the homeowners to sell them their homes.
Of the three homeowners who do not rent out their properties, two have said they feel they are being offered a lot less than their flat is valued at.
Jim Cunningham, 77, moved into the flats not long after they were built 45 years ago.
He said: "These flats were lovely when we moved in, but over the years the council have just let them fall into disrepair, and now most of them are empty. We finished paying for ours about 15 years ago and we never thought we would have to move again. We are too old to get a mortgage now, but what they are offering is nowhere near what I need to get another flat around here. We are too old to move."
Mr Cunningham, a retired mechanic, had his flat valued at £110,000 in 1997, and has since bought a garage below, which he says the council has not taken into account in their offer of £118,000.
Dave Watson, 68, who still works as s bricklayer, also owns a flat on the close, said: "The money we are being offered (also £118,000) is not enough. We have had surveyors in and they are saying it should be nearer £135,000. I'm not happy with the council and I'm not going to sit back and let them take it. I have spent nearly £20,000 on improving my house with a new bathroom and kitchen."
At this weeks' strategy and resources committee, councillors agreed to make compulsory purchase orders on the properties if it needed to, but insisted it was a last resort.
Conservative councillors Stewart Gordon Bullock and Tim Crowley told the meeting they had reservations about CPOs and said there were concerns about infringing the human rights of those affected.
Councillor Jayne McCoy, chairwoman of the housing, economy and business committee said: "We have been working closely with residents of Corbet Close to ensure that arrangements made are suitable for all parties concerned. We have made offers to leaseholders based on the legal guidelines we are obliged to work within and we believe the offers fairly reflect the market value of the properties.
"In addition each resident leaseholder will receive a compensation package worth 10 percent of the property value as well as reimbursement of all reasonable disturbance costs incurred during the process, including legal fees.
"The council will be reconsidering all the cases and if any leaseholder feels that additional factors need to be considered regarding their properties then we invite them to tell us about these so we can review each case as required. We will offer support where appropriate and we are already discussing personal circumstances with resident leaseholders on the estate. We want to make sure this process is as stress-free as possible for our residents."