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Camden New Journal - by CHARLOTTE CHAMBERS
Published 28 September 2006
Elderly continue fight to save homes

CNJ thrown out of meeting as year’s reprieve granted

ELDERLY residents fighting to save their award-winning homes from demolition won a year’s reprieve after confronting their housing chief on Monday.
But Grahame Hindes, Chief Executive of Octavia Housing and Care, ordered a New Journal reporter out of the crunch meeting, despite an invitation from some residents.
A unique hexagonal building in Priory Road, West Hampstead, Waite Houses won an architectural award when it was unveiled by the Queen Mother in 1970.
Now Octavia want to demolish it claiming it is in too poor a state to repair.
At the meeting, held at St Mary’s Community Hall in Abbey Road, Mr Hindes told the tenants that until the consultation process is complete, which could take a year, he will not submit a planning application.
It follows two months of unrest after residents were sent a letter in August informing them they would be forced to leave. The letter, headed ‘Decanting Waites Houses’, stated: “We are sorry that you will have to move from the Waites Houses.”
The New Journal was refused permission to sit in on the meeting by Mr Hindes, a move backed by the chairwoman of the resident’s committee Carolyn Parsons. The involvement of the press has divided residents.
Ms Parsons interrupted interviews with the press to order her neighbours to stay silent. She rejected requests for an interview with the New Journal.
After Monday’s meeting – the first time residents have met Mr Hindes – some tenants were gloomy about their future. One man, who did not want to be named, said: “Nothing has been achieved tonight. Octavia have made their mind up about what they’re going to do – they’re going to demolish the place.”
Octavia want to redevelop the site to staunch the borough’s desperate need for family homes, they say.
Another resident said: “The rights of the elderly are just as important as those of families. And is this site appropriate for large family units?”
Criticising the lack of maintenance carried out by Octavia in recent years, he added: “Although they’re exaggerating the scale of the (building’s) problems, they’ve made them worse by not dealing with them. They made a decision a long time ago not to maintain it.”
A survey commissioned by Octavia found structural problems with the building.
Octavia has refused to publish a copy of the report.
Mr Hindes said: “The precise form of the consultation process and the support needed will be agreed with residents as we proceed.”
n HOUSING chiefs are searching for a way to invest £1.95 million after a proposal to build adapted homes for elderly people in Primrose Hill was scrapped, writes Mairi MacDonald.
They have until the end of the year to come up with a scheme or face losing the Housing Corporation grant.
The money was originally to convert a block of 62 sheltered housing flats in the Oldfield Estate, Regent’s Park Road, into 37 “extra care” homes.
But Central and Cecil Housing Trust (CCHT) were forced to withdraw their proposals for Carole House last Wednesday after losing the backing of Camden and the Housing Corporation.
Despite assurances that the plan to develop Carole House had been binned, tenants who campaigned to save their homes were cautious this week. In a letter to the New Journal one said letters had been sent to tenants to help them “understand Extra Care”.
A Housing Corporation spokeswoman said a plan was being discussed between Camden and CCHT to reallocate the money before the deadline, when funds would go back into the central pot.
– see letters, page 19


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