Residents of Brixton’s last ‘shortlife’ housing co-operative have called on Lambeth council to be more flexible over looming evictions.
Members of the 30-year-old co-operative have been ordered to leave the Victorian Mansion block, in Coldharbour Lane, ahead of its redevelopment as part of the Somerleyton Road project.
But although they reached a “consent order” agreement, handing Lambeth possession of the building in court in April, members want to be allowed to stay in their homes until building work starts in 2015.
Resident Matthew Clarke told the Brixton Blog: “Carlton Mansions is part of the creative heart of Brixton. We’ve been here all through the riots and the times no one wanted to love in Brixton, but now we’re being booted out.
“This is breaking up a long-standing community. It will be end of an era once we are gone. The last of the shortlife communities now Rushcroft Road and Clifton [Mansions] are gone.”
The site will form the edge of the new Somerleyton Road development – which will see the construction of 60 care units, 85 units with ‘capped rent’ and 85 units let at “affordable rent” alongside 70 new privately rented homes. It will include retails units, workshops, community space and an ambitious new home for the Ovalhouse Theatre, and will be transferred to public ownership by Lambeth.
But rather than leaving immediately, some residents want to stay in their homes and to take part in ongoing the consultation over the future of Somerleyton Road.
Clarke added: “There’s no date on the consent order. The residents who don’t have a right to rehousing had six weeks to get out, and that has passed so the council could act any time. We don’t have any control over it. They could try and get us out in the next few weeks.”
It is the latest in a long running battle with the council that has seen a number of court hearings, and injunctions sought against the co-operative due to a fire risk in the old building.
A Lambeth council spokesman this afternoon refused to confirm when they will enforce the possession agreement. He added: “Carlton Mansions is a serious fire risk for anyone living there, and the court settlement gave Lambeth legal possession of the building.
“Our priority now is to find alternative homes for those occupants who meet the criteria for rehousing. We are in the process of preparing offers of secure tenancies in Lambeth either by the council or local housing associations, via direct offers being made to them or via Choice Based Lettings.
“The Council has made it clear that it will remove any occupants who disregard the court order and the danger to life and limb, by continuing to live in the building.”
Read a full history of the eviction struggle here.