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Pavilion gets greedy

Keith Parkins | 15.04.2008 16:48 | Repression | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | South Coast

Pavilion Housing Association is looking to the next four years to sweat its assets, to extract the maximum value.

boarded-up maisonettes Firgrove Court
boarded-up maisonettes Firgrove Court

derelict garages earmarked for redevelopment
derelict garages earmarked for redevelopment

Housing association are in all but name private companies. In law, they are private companies.

Fat cat salaries.

Tenants are there to provide an income.

Housing associations are now looking to squeeze their assets.

If the land on which your home stands, is worth more redeveloped, than it makes as social housing, you will be kicked out of your home.

This is already happening in Germany.

What were once council or state owned, are now in private hands.

What were once estates with open spaces, large gardens, are now seen as prime development land.

Pavilion consists of what was once council housing in Aldershot and Farnborough, was once owned by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. The tenants were conned and the housing stock transferred to a private company.

Pavilion is now owned by First Wessex Housing Group, which also owns housing in Portsmouth and Eastleigh. Tenants were not consulted on the mergers and acquisitions.

Firgrove Court, social housing, a small estate of 32 maisonettes, has been sold off to developers KPI (a Kuwaiti-financed front-company of property developer St Modwen) for a car park for a superstore, part of the unwanted Farnborough town centre redevelopment, the tenants to be kicked out of their homes.

All Pavilion tenants, not just those at Firgrove Court, should have kicked up a stink, as it sets a dangerous precedent. It could happen anywhere where Pavilion decides the development potential exceeds the rental income.

This is now happening, in a recently published internal document, Asset Management Strategy (March 2008), Pavilion, or to be more precise First Wessex, are evaluating their entire portfolio for development potential.

In Aldershot, what were once pleasant desirable estates, have been blighted by lack of repairs and anti-social behaviour.

These estates have potential, could once again be pleasant and desirable places to live, if the will was there, if money was spent and resources fairly allocated.

To Pavilion, yes they do have potential, but potential for development.

Look at how many blocks of flats could be built on the open spaces.

Garage blocks are little used, they lie semi-derelict, are not safe places to be, useful though for dealers and others to stash their gear. And yet, rents have doubled.

Pavilion now wish to demolish the garages and redevelop the land.

A block of maisonettes in Selborne Avenue, Aldershot, contaminated with asbestos, slowly subsiding, a sink for undesirables, is earmarked for demolition.

North Town, Aldershot, the entire area is earmarked for redevelopment.

Elizabeth House, Aldershot, possible demolition and redevelopment.

All amenity land is being looked at for development potential.

There will be consultation, consultation with partner agencies, not consultation with tenants and leaseholders or local communities.

The first the residents of Firgrove Court knew their homes were to be demolished, was when they saw posters and hoardings in the town centre showing their home were to be a car park for a superstore!

The future use of existing property will not be determined by addressing social need, but a cost-benefit analysis.

First Wessex are looking to drive down their costs year on year, which translates as a deteriorating service to their tenants and leaseholders, who only see year on year rising costs.

The big housing associations are now looking for stock market listings. Housing associations are now directly competing with traditional private companies in their bids for public money for social housing.

Were housing associations to be floated on the stock exchange, the tenants would have no say, in the same way they have no say now, who owns their housing association, who owns their estate.

Corporate developers are greedily eying the land on which social housing stands. Not withstanding the property crash of 2010, land is valuable, land is desirable.

Remove security of tenure, devalue secure tenancies, and the land becomes more valuable. To benefit from increased land values, landlords want to be able to evict their tenants with ease.

Housing associations spend a fortune on self-promotion, publishing glossy comics. They will also not hesitate to spend money on legal fees, hire private dicks, in a crude attempt to silence their critics.

Tenants who sit on the boards are management stooges, classic divide and rule.

In the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, such is the piss-poor performance of Pavilion, that on the Pavilion slum estates in Aldershot and Farnborough, it has become the issue in the May local elections.

Mike Lane has produced an excellent documentary The Regeneration Game on the activities of housing associations in Liverpool, their cronies and supporters in Liverpool City Council, and how their activities are blighting whole areas of Liverpool.

Also see the excellent spoof newspaper Mesho published by SchNEWS, looking at housing issues and giving plenty of helpful advice and sources of further information.

Also check out the Defend Council Housing website which has a lot of useful information on social housing.

If you are living in social housing and can't get repairs carried out (a typical Pavilion tenant), then file a complaint and demand action of the toothless watchdog the Housing Ombudsman. But don't hold your breath.

Keith Parkins
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  1. Too high Land Values? — Joshua Vincent
  2. Regulation of the Housing Sector — Science Investigation