Jamila Farah, a 51-year-old healthcare worker, faced heartache after purchasing her long-term residence in Edmonton, North London, only to discover its impending demolition. Farah, accompanied by her 24-year-old son, Galid, had resided in the two-bedroom property on the Shires estate for two decades before purchasing it for £78,000 on May 14.
The devastating news arrived merely weeks post-purchase when Enfield Council revealed plans to demolish the entire block, including Farah’s newly acquired home. Expressing her regret, Farah lamented, “I’d still be in a normal council house, and then they would have to rehouse me. Now I’m a private tenant so they won’t offer anything, and I can’t afford somewhere new.”
Farah, voicing her desire for similar accommodation, highlighted her struggles, stating, “I’m not even fussed about the money now. I’m struggling with daily life. They still should look after us.”
The looming threat emerged following concerns about the structural integrity of the two 17-storey blocks, Cheshire House and Shropshire House, on the estate due to a gas leak in November last year. The perilous condition rendered the buildings uninhabitable, prompting the council to plan the demolition and subsequent rehousing of residents.
Enfield Council embarked on a resolution, agreeing to a “timely buy-back” of properties owned by leaseholders at market value, coupled with an additional 10% in home loss compensation, amounting to a payout of £230,000 for Farah.
Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan underscored the necessity of prioritizing residents’ safety and well-being amidst the situation. “Following overwhelming backing of moving from the estate, our priority is to ensure all residents at Cheshire and Shropshire Houses get the quality home they deserve,” remarked Cllr Caliskan.
Explaining the council’s decision, Cllr Caliskan rationalized, “A full refurbishment of the blocks, just to maintain them to an acceptable standard, would have been expensive and disruptive.” The move to decommission the tower blocks aimed to expedite residents’ relocation to safe and suitable alternative accommodations while enabling the council to allocate its limited resources toward enhancing other council homes.
The council estimated a staggering £53 million for immediate repairs to the 1960s buildings, prompting the decision to opt for demolition. With the buy-back plan reaching approximately £13.8 million in total costs, Enfield Council assured leaseholders of support, encompassing legal and surveying expenses and facilitating their relocation process.
In emphasizing the council’s commitment, Cllr Caliskan reiterated, “The safety and comfort of our residents is our priority, and this decision will ensure that residents are able to quickly access the decent housing they deserve.”
The council’s initiative aims to mitigate disruptions and swiftly transition affected residents to safer dwellings, underscoring a concerted effort to prioritize their welfare amidst the challenging circumstances.