Octavia Hill Estates sale is "end of affordable housing in Waterloo" says MP

Nearly 400 homes in SE1 formerly owned by the Church Commissioners have changed hands.

The former Church Commissioners properties in SE1 – known as the Octavia Hill Estates – include 130 homes at Benson House and Tait House on Hatfields, 159 homes in Mitre Road and Ufford Street near The Cut and 93 homes on the Winchester Park Estate in Union Street.

The homes were sold in 2005 and 2006 to Grainger GenInvest, a joint venture between Grainger plc and the Genesis Housing Group. At the time of the sales residents were assured that the involvement of Genesis, a registered social landlord, would provide some protection from the open market.

Now Grainger plc has bought the portfolio of 1,630 central London homes outright. As well as the SE1 properties, the joint venture also owned estates in Walworth, Vauxhall and elsewhere.

Residents' campaign against the sell-off of the homes was backed by MPs Kate Hoey and Simon Hughes, as well as local clergy and the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

Five years after the unsuccessful campaign, news of the further sale has been greeted with anger.

"We told the Church Commissioners what would happen and they ignored us, putting profit before people in their desire to sell off the housing," says Kate Hoey MP.

"The Church Commissioners should now apologise to the residents for their actions.

"This is the end of affordable housing in Waterloo."

Commenting on the transaction, Grainger's chief executive Andrew Cunningham said: "This is a fantastic, high quality portfolio, and a rare opportunity to acquire over 1500 units the majority of which are within four miles of Westminster.

"It is a natural and positive step for Grainger to acquire the remaining 50 per cent of this joint venture, which Grainger is familiar with and firmly committed to.

"It will allow us to ensure that residents continue to receive the same high level of service and commitment that they have come to expect.

"This transaction is consistent with our strategy to acquire high quality portfolios of residential assets which deliver good long-term returns. The fact that we already know the portfolio in-depth made this even more appealing."

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