Camberwell residents are demanding that Southwark Council tell them who it will contract to manage new apartment blocks proposed for the Wyndham and Redcar Estate.
The council is on the cusp of signing a deal with Clarion Housing Group to look after dozens of new homes on the estate.
Draft plans presented have suggested that Corbett, Finley Court, and Carey Court blocks will be demolished and rebuilt, and the Brandon Baptist Church relocated.
Residents have slammed Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, for allegedly failing to keep them in the loop after the council promised to consult with them.
Rhian Clugston, of the newly-formed Wyndham and Redcar Interest Group, told the News they were “shocked” when it was revealed that Clarion looked set to win the contract. Clarion was recently formed in a merger of two housing associations, Affinity Sutton (who residents were told in September would get the contract) and Circle Housing Group.
Clarion was recently in the news after reports that it would buy back homes in the Orchard Village estate in Havering, plagued with leaks, mould, faulty staircases, broken heating systems, and inadequate fire-proofing.
The worried residents found numerous other reports online of failings by the Circle group. Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali spoke in Parliament in November about a Circle-run estate where residents were “carrying umbrellas indoors”, with “lifts breaking down on a weekly basis”, “and 30 flats left without light for weeks”.
Rushanara told the Commons: “Residents are rightly concerned that the merger… will see services deteriorate even further.”
Rhian said: “We were told we were going to have a say from the outset.” But the residents group say they have heard nothing from Cllr Williams since October.
Rhian pointed to the council’s Charter of Principles, which says residents will be given “the right level of information you need to make up your mind about the benefits and disadvantages of our proposal”.
Cllr Williams said: “I understand residents’ concerns and I met with them late last year where these were discussed. Since then new concerns have been raised with us about the quality of build that Clarion will carry out. We are absolutely committed to quality construction for our new council homes, which is why the council has set out very clear and enforceable controls on design quality and robustness of construction, through our New Home Design Standards – as shown by our recently completed new council homes.
“These proposed new homes are going to be delivered in direct partnership with the council and officers will have full input and oversight of the design quality, robustness and resident experience of the new council homes. We are reviewing the concerns raised about the historic issues centred around Circle, and before signing the contract we will ensure that they are being dealt with as part of the merger, and that Clarion will deliver to the high standards we require.”
A Clarion Housing Group spokesperson said: “Prior to the merger Affinity Sutton’s senior management team and the regulator – the Homes and Communities Agency, were aware that there were a number of Circle related service issues in parts of London, including Orchard Village.
“The view was taken that the best way to tackle these issues and improve services for residents was to progress with the merger. The Executive Team’s immediate and most urgent priority is to be a positive force in resolving the service failures inherited from Circle and we are already making progress.”