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Hughes and Hoey register protest over Octavia Hill sell-off

London SE1 website team

Local MPs Simon Hughes and Kate Hoey have met the Church Commissioners to register a formal protest about the sale of homes in Waterloo and Borough.

Part of the Waterloo estate seen from the London E
Part of the Waterloo estate seen from the London Eye

The sale of the estates in Borough, Waterloo and Walworth brought to an end the church's responsibility for this social housing for local people and families.

The sell-off included 159 homes in Mitre Road and Ufford Street near The Cut and 93 homes in Union Street.

The campaign against the sell-off – led by tenants – was backed by local bishops and clergy, members of the Church of England General Synod, council leaders and councillors and MPs.

This week Simon Hughes and Kate Hoey met the Church Commissioners' assets committee to register a protest about the handling of the sale.

"Although the Octavia Hill sale went ahead earlier this year, local MPs wanted to make clear face-to-face that we thought the Church Commissioners had not behaved well in dealing with their tenants and their local elected representatives," said Simon Hughes.

He continued: "The Church Commissioners have made clear that they acted on legal advice in deciding how to proceed with the sale. Sadly getting shot of the social housing they owned has harmed the church's reputation for standing up for the poor and families on low incomes."

Andrew Brown, secretary to the Church Commissioners, told the London SE1 website that members of the Assets Committee welcomed the opportunity to talk to the MPs: "Members explained the issues around the Committee's approach to the sale, particularly the legal aspects concerning the Committee members' fiduciary duties under charity law. They also emphasised how they had taken the social effects of the sale into account.

"We were particularly pleased to hear the MPs say that the new owners were building relationships locally, both with them, and with the Octavia Hill residents."

Simon Hughes added: "Kate Hoey and I asked the Committee to learn the lessons from this unhappy procedure in the way they deal with all church assets in the future. We shall now turn our attention to make sure Grainger GenInvest do not sell of any of the homes they have bought in two boroughs where more social housing is still desperately needed."

We asked Grainger GenInvest to comment but they were not able to provide a response by the time of publication.

Octavia Hill Estates residents' website

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