Despite a long and spirited campaign in protest at Guinness’s plans to demolish the estate and build upmarket apartments, just two residents now remain in the Loughborough Park estate.
Bethany Rielly interviewed the remaining residents for Brixton Buzz:
Last ones standing
Marian Okanlawon and Ola Adeyemi are the last remaining tenants of the Loughborough Park estate in Brixton which is due to be demolished as part of a controversial regeneration programme.
Ms Okanlawon, who is originally from Nigeria and her two children, aged 9 and 5 are now the only inhabitants of Kenwood House, a block of 36 flats of which hers is right in the middle.
She has had to watch while each one of her neighbours have either been rehoused or evicted from their properties, leaving her and her children isolated and vulnerable to trespassers.
Ms Okanlawan said: “I feel terrified in my own home. I barricade the door each night because there are people outside my front door who try to come in.”
The Guinness Partnership, one of Britain’s largest providers of affordable housing, has allegedly been unable to rehouse Ms Okanlawon because her immigration status does not entitle her to housing assistance paid by the state.
A Guinness Spokesperson said: “We are unable to rehouse Ms Okanlawon due to legislative reasons and have instead been working closely with her and Lambeth Council to explore other housing options.”
However Ms Okanlawon expressed that she has not received word of alternative housing options except an offer made to her in August by Lambeth Council of a flat in Eastbourne which she had to decline.
“I’ve developed my social network in London, my children go to school in London, and I work and go to church in London. How do they then expect me to live in Eastbourne?”
Ms Okanlawon works a low paid job as a NHS healthcare assistant meaning that she is not able to afford private accommodation and because she is working she is also not entitled to social housing from the council.
Guinness are under no legal obligation to rehouse her because she is an assured shorthold tenant (AST) and thus does not have the same legal rights as lifelong tenants who have received apartments in the newly developed blocks.
Mr Adeyemi, who is the sole resident of Moyner House said: “It’s like some sort of psychological torture. I look out of the window and where I used to see lights shining from the surrounding flats I now see darkness. It’s completely isolating.”
Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood has been involved with the campaign to rehouse tenants: “The situation of the last remaining tenants is very difficult and Guinness must ensure that the estate is kept secure and clean while any residents remain living there.
I am continuing to represent them to Guinness and I am clear that the current situation is not acceptable.”
Guinness claims that the new estate will accommodate more social rented households however many of the flats will be offered at so-called affordable rent which can be set at up to 80% of the local market rent.
Rashid Nix, a member of the Green Party and former tenant of the estate has been a key campaigner for tenants at the Loughborough Park estate: “Guinness, a social landlord, have acted disgracefully while local labour have betrayed voters by selling out to property developers and have become a party of social and ethnic cleansing. It’s a worrying time for people living in social housing.”
Read the full background to the story here: Brixton evictions and regeneration – the story of the Guinness Trust Estate in Loughborough Park, Brixton
Discuss this on the urban75 forums
Guinness Trust AST Tenants Facebook page
Lambeth Housing Activists
Sign the petition: Stop the social cleansing of Brixton. Stop the evictions of tenants from Loughborough Park Estate
Background info and video:
The story of the Guinness Trust Estate in Loughborough Park, Brixton
Guinness Trust, Brixton fights the landlords
Guinness Trust estate campaign continues in Brixton