Kensington & Chelsea Council’s plan to move those in temporary housing to cheaper areas slammed by Labour leader

Kensington and Chelsea’s homeless could be shipped out of the area after the council (RBKC) decided to splash out £10m on 39 cheaper residences outside of the borough.

Some could find themselves moved out of London altogether, with the council unsure whether they will find appropriate housing for a low enough price in the capital.

The move is another blow to the provision of temporary housing in the borough after plans to redevelop Chelsea’s Sutton Estate, which previously provided some temporary accommodation, were submitted on July 31.

The Conservative-led council has denied the planned purchases and Sutton Estate redevelopment are connected.

A council spokesman said: “Even if temporary accommodation continued to be available on the Sutton Estate we would still need to purchase properties to help us secure a stable supply of quality temporary accommodation.”

However Kensington Labour leader, Robert Atkinson, was concerned by the proposals.

He said: “The council clearly cares more for pretty, empty buildings than it does for a balanced population where rich and poor alike can live side by side.”

He did concede the plan could be a good investment as housing people in cheaper areas would have a financial advantage, but was worried family and community links could be broken up and those in work could be moved far away from their jobs.

A council spokesman was keen to stress they would not move a family out of the borough if it is actively involved with its children’s services department.

A representative from the independent social housing charity which owns the Sutton Estate, Affinity Sutton, said the flats it previously let to the council to house the homeless must be sold to private buyers once redeveloped to fund the other 75% of the development which will continue to provide social housing.

He also emphasised that these flats, which didn’t meet government Decent Homes Standards and therefore couldn’t be let to social housing tenants, were never intended to provide temporary accommodation in the long-term.

A statement on their website reads: “We believe we have acted responsibly in offering RBKC this opportunity to help people to whom they owe a statutory duty rather than leave the flats empty.

“Providing permanent housing for these tenants is the responsibility of RBKC and all were aware they were being housed on the Estate on a temporary basis.”

However residents have questioned why these flats were emptied and boarded-up before the redevelopment plans were even submitted.

The Office for National Statistics reveals that house prices in Kensington & Chelsea are the highest in the UK, with the median cost of a home ‘just under £1.2m’ in 2014.

Despite this, RBKC currently offers the highest percentage of social housing of any London borough, at 25% of total residences.

Picture courtesy of  Klovovi, with thanks

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