Our Homes Are Not For Sale is an ongoing piece of work about residents of four London housing estates, currently owned by The Crown Estates.

The estates in Victoria Park, Cumberland Market, Lee Green and Millbank are unique in that they have historically been primarily availabe to key workers in the London area - teachers, tube drivers, social workers, police officers and the like, both current and retired. Many families have lived and been integral, active members of the communities for several generations.

In early 2010 Crown Estates held a consultation with the residents to gauge views on a proposal to sell the freeholds of the properties. The respective residence associations came together in unanimously opposition, under the slogan Our Homes Are Not For Sale. The campaign has received cross party support from local MPs, the Greater London Authority along with the Mayor of London. During this period I was asked to document the campaign and take portraits of residents in their homes.

The collective concern primarily being the possibility that rents could increase to market levels under a private landlord. As key workers (past and present) most are on fixed, relatively moderate incomes.  Market rents of the properties, some of which are in the more sort after areas of London would be considerably more than those currently paid therefore placing them outside of their reach of most residents. The result being most would likely having to relocate further from the centre and their places of work, thereby breaking up families and communities which have been built over generations.  It could also mean the loss of affordable homes for future generations of key workers in the city, and the possibility of disruption to key services in the capital.

In October 2010 the purchaser was announced as Peabody Trust, one of the oldest and largest housing associations in London. A consultation period is underway to hear the views of residents on Peabody's plans for managing the estates.
While the precise details of the sale are still in negotiation important commitments made by Peabody include
    * 9 out of every 10 new lettings will be to key workers
    * current residents' will retain security of tenure and rental framework
    * continuation of Crown Estates policy of charging no more than 60% of the market rental value of properties to key worker tenants (future tenants may have an 80% market rent cap).

The campaign is ongoing, with the four Residents' Associations taking active roles in the consultation process, and seeking a greater input into the future running of the estates.
The work on completion will be held in the archive of the Geffrye Museum in East London.







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�  Victoria Birkinshaw 2010