South Acton Family Last Hold Outs in Condemned Block

Say that Ealing Council's offer to buy undervalues their home

Yacob Woldehiwot watches as an adjacent block is torn down


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An family from South Acton are refusing to let the council move them out of their home to make way for a new £800 million development. Yacob Woldehiwot and his family do not want to move out of their one-bedroom flat on the South Acton Estate despite Ealing Council trying to push them to do so.

The council plans to bulldoze the tower block the family live in as part of a £800 million redevelopment project that would build 3,463 new homes. In order to get residents on the estate to vacate their flats, the council offered to buy them, but Yacob refused to sell his flat.

Yacob, 50, claimed the reason he doesn’t want to move out of the apartment, is because the council have undervalued the property at £285,000.

The father also said his family would not be able to buy another apartment in South Acton for that amount and so would be priced out of the area. He argues that instead of demolishing the buildings on the South Acton Estate, they should just be refurbished.

Speaking to the BBC for the programme Hanging On To Home: A Place Called Home, Yacob said, “Why should it be demolished without a valid reason? Because it could be refurbished and there is no reason why it should be demolished.”

Yakob and his family look out of their window at building being demolished
Yakob and his family look out of their window at building being demolished

Yacob and his family, who moved to the estate thirteen years ago, are the only people living in their apartment block, something he said made him feel “vulnerable” and “unsafe”.

Yacob also claimed that, since the revamp project began, the council has neglected his apartment block, letting it become dirty. BBC footage shows the stairwell of Yacob’s apartment block with dirt and bird poo on the stairs and grimy windows.

One corner of the stairwell has what appears to be an active bird nest with an egg in it. Because of his refusal to sell the property to them, Ealing Council issued Yacob with a compulsory purchase order, meaning they could buy the flat at any moment without his permission.

According to the BBC, over 400 residents have been moved from the estate since January 2016. Yacob said, “I don’t think it is regeneration, it is gentrification that is happening because all the leaseholders I know have moved out of the area.”

Yakob says the area is being gentrified not regenerated
Yakob says the area is being gentrified not regenerated

There will be a public enquiry into Yacob’s case later this year. A spokesperson for Ealing Council told the BBC, “We are replacing the existing poor quality social housing with enough new, better quality homes to accommodate all existing residents who want to continue living on the estate.

“The majority of the [existing] homes have intrinsic and fundamental design issues that refurbishment would not address. The buy-back process, CPO Code and appointment of independent valuers ensures leaseholders receive full market value for their home, plus a generous package of compensation.

“Mr Woldehiwot is the only one whose approach has triggered a need to exercise our compulsory purchase powers. We will continue to attempt to engage and negotiate with Mr Woldehiwot. If it cannot be agreed between us, the value of his home and compensatory package payable will be determined at a tribunal.”

Lisa Haseldine - Local Democracy Reporter

March 8, 2022

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