Residents at a former RAF base are concerned that their community will be shattered as they are forced to move out of their homes as part of a refurbishment project.
Tenants of 28 bungalows at the Upper Heyford Airbase, which is owned by The Dorchester Group, received a letter just before Christmas stating they would have to vacate their homes within two months to allow for extensive refurbishment work.
Nicola and Vince Sawbridge live in Trenchard Circle, which is the first street to be refurbished as part of a ten-year programme. Mrs Sawbridge said: “We were advised just before Christmas that The Dorchester Group is going to move us all out, refurbish our properties and sell them back to us at an incredible price of £320,000. A lot of people have lived here for up to 18 years; many of them are elderly and aren’t able to get a mortgage and we don’t want to break up the community. We feel as if they want to outprice everything for us.”
Mrs Sawbridge added that when they first moved into the property in 2011, they were told they could buy the property in its current condition for about £120,000. “This is why we have paid rent the past two years and now they’ve pulled the rug from underneath us,” she said.
Her husband added: “It’s utterly unfair that a whole community should be asked to move out at such short notice, with many of us not knowing where to go or being given enough time to make plans.”
Catherine Beagley, sales and marketing director of Dorchester Living, said all tenants will be offered an alternative affordable option within Heyford Park. She added: “In order to create a sustainable future for Heyford Park, it is important we address the current conditions of the existing properties to bring them up to a modernised standard, offering an enhanced quality of life.
“To accommodate our customers, we have agreed to pay for the removal costs should tenants move to another property at Heyford Park. We can also confirm that tenants will not be charged for the renewal costs of any new tenancy agreement. We hope all our tenants choose to remain at Heyford Park as they are valued members of the existing community.”
Timothy Bigelow, chairman of Heyford Park’s residents’ association, said: “We’ll fight tooth and nail. We are a happy community and would like the chance to remain so. ”