Danielle Molinari and her two-year-old Frankie face being put out on the street. So does her 70-year-old neighbour Mary White, along with her adult son (and father of two) Bill. The same goes for the rest of the 93 households on London’s New Era estate. The question is why? The obvious place to start is with American fund manager Westbrook, which bought an entire community’s homes up from underneath them and plans to jack up rents sky-high, forcing residents into homelessness. Then there’s Richard Benyon, the Tory MP whose multimillion-pound family estate partnered on the deal – until public shaming forced him last week to pull out. Got blame to spare? Then take your pick from an entire deck of weak-chinned politicians, starting with London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, all of whom have done so little to help so late in the day. But something bigger is playing out in this little redbrick square on the fringes of the City – and it makes what happens next … [Read more...] about New Era estate scandal: families at the mercy of international speculators
Preston estate planning
Six arrests were made during a major police operation to support the eviction of protesters from a London housing estate which has become a rallying point for campaigners opposing controversial regeneration schemes. A standoff following scuffles late on Tuesday at the Aylesbury Estate, which is being cleared for demolition before a £1.5bn regeneration project, after the local council moved to evict a group who took over part of the estate following a March for Homes protest in London earlier this month. Notting Hill Housing was named last year as the development partner for a 20-year regeneration scheme to build 4,000 homes. Taking inspiration from recent housing campaigns such as Focus E15 and New Era, the people involved in the the occupation at the Aylesbury had mounted a last-ditch legal bid to challenge their eviction by Southwark council. Speaking at the scene shortly after the eviction on Tuesday night, activist Charlie Ebert accused the police of heavy handedness and said … [Read more...] about Six arrested as police help in evictions from London estate
An end to lifetime council tenancies was signalled today by David Cameron as he warned the coming public spending cuts will not be restored when the economy recovers. Cameron said he wanted to see fixed terms for all new council and housing association tenancies lasting as little as five years to help increase social mobility. The prime minister admitted that "not everyone will support this and there will be quite a big argument". Speaking in Birmingham, he said: "There is a question mark about whether, in future, we should be asking when you are given a council home, is it for a fixed period? Because maybe in five or 10 years you will be doing a different job and be better paid and you won't need that home, you will be able to go into the private sector." A consultation paper, due to be published as early as tomorrow, will say the new short-term tenure would be for local councils to implement, but would involve regular reviews of tenancies to see if the council tenant still needed … [Read more...] about David Cameron announces plan to end lifetime council tenancies
Hamburg's "center of terror," as city-state Culture and Media Minister Carsten Brosda describes it, was based in the Stadthaus, a splendid 300-year-old building right downtown. Its restored tower overlooks adjacent buildings. A hotel has opened on the ground level. On some windows, slogans such as "Chin up, Cherie!" advertise new luxury flats above. Behind the elegant facade, Adolf Hitler's Gestapo tortured opponents of his Nazi regime. The violence began as early as 1933 in this historic building with a view of the the canals that run through Hamburg's inner city. The victims included the barber Herbert Baade. An active communist, he was arrested because he had a leaflet against the Nazis. The Gestapo never found out that he had printed it himself or who else was involved, said Detlef Baade, Herbert's son. "My father was brought here several times," Baade said. "They strapped him to a wooden gymnastics vault and beat him till he bled and collapsed. They stabbed him through the leg … [Read more...] about Can Hamburg deal with its Nazi past during a property boom?
If the major banks – rather than housebuilders – were the chief beneficiaries of the government’s help-to-buy scheme, the financial regulator would probably list it as a scam. Ministers would be up in arms and bankers would again be the pariahs they were in 2008. Help to buy is a government scheme that supports the purchase of a newbuild home. It was launched in 2013 and given a reboot last year that will now allow it to run until 2023. The brainchild of the former chancellor George Osborne, it has proved to be, according to its supporters, a lifeline for an important element of British infrastructure – namely private housebuilding. Without the rescue scheme, which commits the state to stumping up 20% of a home’s purchase price up to a limit of £600,000 (and, with the same cap in place, 40% of the price in London), the industry would have found itself on its knees, the argument goes. Instead, private housebuilding recovered and an industry that was … [Read more...] about Help to buy has had its day. Time to tax the builders and close the scheme