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Developers wanting to build extra storeys on Council estates

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Tuesday 3 March 2020 8.32pm
We have recently been contacted by a very persistent developer that wants to "help" the leaseholders of our building to get a share of the freehold from the Council and in return allow them to build extra storeys on top of our flat roof building for them to sell or rent (up to 20 extra flats). They are offering us a lumpsum and freehold for 999 years (instead of whatever remains on our original 125 years lease) and some update to our building at their cost. Has anyone else been contacted for a similar scheme? They seem extra keen and have sent us a couple of letters in a week and also emails... They even suggested that Southwark Council might develop extra storey themselves without the leaseholders consent and no extension of the leases. Is that something Southwark is actively doing? Anyone else been contacted by developers in the same manner?
Tuesday 3 March 2020 8.36pm
Yes the council is looking at rooftop developments as part of its house building programme

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Wednesday 4 March 2020 11.18am
My brother moved into 248 Wendover with his wife and three children when it first opened. Within a year or two the Council decided to add on at the side an entire block, literally stuck on Albany rd. End. The whole project was a nightmare for tenants in existing block. 5.30am starts, week end working, my brother put his new car Accross the gate to the site. Foreman threatened to drive over it, my brother said that's fine I have loads of witnesses and a camera!
The final straw was on a Sunday, probably after workers had come out the pub, a crane driver swung his jib and knocked out one of the massive concrete slabs from end of building. It smashed within ten feet of people front doors. Southwark moved very quickly to repair the hole it made! Hours in fact!
My brother then moved into a house he purchased in Longfield...lives of his family were paramount.
Heaven help residents having to live with such works, whether stuck on side or on top.
Wednesday 4 March 2020 2.44pm
And yet there is a housing crisis, and people need affordable homes to live in. So why not build up? Yes there will be some disruption, but there are families in temp accommodation or paying extortionate rent who also live with disruption.
Wednesday 4 March 2020 3.59pm
I guess it depends how good Southwark Council in managing the building.
Having lived in both Council and Privately managed buildings I find they are both really poorly managed, but at least with the Council the annual Service Charge was A LOT cheaper (for comparable buildings in terms of size).
Buy the way, I believe you can buy the Freehold from the Council even without involving a third party (the Developer). That would mean no more Ground Rent which is quite nice and more decision power... as well as constant fights between the various freeholders every time you need to decide something :)
Wednesday 4 March 2020 4.02pm
As leaseholders I am wondering if we can prevent the Council from developing their own rooftop extension scheme, if that's what they intend to do one day? Would we be advised well in advance and have a right to reject it?
The Council are supposed to replace the water tanks on the rooftop this spring so I doubt they would do that if they were planning to build more flats there in the near future. Do they have the funds do make such extensions?
Wednesday 4 March 2020 5.23pm
Yes MarcoC, I would much prefer getting the freehold ourselves than selling our souls to developers...But I don't think other leaseholders will be prepared to pay towards that process or want to manage the building themselves.
We are in small building with no antisocial behaviour and the loss of light over our flats and garden will be dreadful on top of potential structural problems.
Yes, people need housing but we are already gradually being surrounded by towers all around us in Elephant. On Southwark’s website I see they plan to set up joint-ventures to do rooftop extensions so that may limit the number of social housing they would actually provide. So I suspect a lot of money to go to developers and no much gain for residents or those in need of social housing.
Thursday 5 March 2020 12.18pm
Surely the leaseholder is the council. It should be they that are contacting you, not developers.
Thursday 5 March 2020 1.56pm
Karen I, the Council are the freeholders but more than 2/3 of the flats have been sold to leaseholders (under the right to buy, mostly in the 1980's) and less than 1/3 of the flats remain for housing council tenants. So there are enough leaseholders to have the right to ask for the freehold (it's called collective enfranchisement). I have been reading that it actually does not cost more than an extension of the lease (I know my neighbour has just extended theirs for £10,000). But when you become freeholders you are responsible for the building structure, insurance, repairs... and if the rooftop extensions causes structural damage, then you're basically stuffed.
So basically the developers want to pay the leaseholders a small lumpsum (all together it would be not more than 120 grand) to get hold of the freehold in order to build on the rooftop. Pretty cheap for them to grab space to build on, even when you add solicitors fees and the freehold cost itself.
They do not even provide plans of what they intend to develop, they just say up to 20 flats (with the going rate of about 500 ground per new flat, that's a cool £10 million).
Thursday 5 March 2020 10.09pm
Thanks Connie, I meant freeholder. Still not sure why the developer is talking to leaseholders, the council should be doing all this. Is owning the freehold just the same as owning the land? If so then isn’t this just a way of the council selling land? I was a Southwark Council leaseholder, some have some understanding.
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