‘Scandalous’ waste of Banbury homes may be nearing an end

Former BBC broadcaster Sue Cook, right, with two residents of Banesberie Close
Former BBC broadcaster Sue Cook, right, with two residents of Banesberie Close

A cul-de-sac of elderly people’s bungalows owned by a London borough may finally be restored to use - after a decade.

Only three homes in Lambeth Council-owned Banesberie Close, Banbury are occupied. The remainder are boarded up and residents say drug users and others are using the properties for unsociable purposes.

Behind one of the derelict Banesberie Close derelict bungalows. Picture by Sue Cook

Behind one of the derelict Banesberie Close derelict bungalows. Picture by Sue Cook

Lambeth has spent nearly three years negotiating a transfer to housing association Sanctuary Housing to allow renovation to start.

Former BBC journalist and presenter Sue Cook, who lives near Banbury, has inspected the homes and photographed discarded drug paraphernalia.

“One resident was recently widowed and feels isolated and vulnerable, surrounded by these derelict homes,” she said.

“There a lots of signs of people being there at night. There are weird noises and gates banging and she dare not open her windows even in hot weather.

Residents hope the derelict bungalows will soon be renovated and rented to new occupiers. Picture by Sue Cook

Residents hope the derelict bungalows will soon be renovated and rented to new occupiers. Picture by Sue Cook

“These are ideal homes for retired people but all but three have been left to go to rack and ruin. It is scandalous. Here we are with 17,000 homes being built around Banbury - the need for housing is huge.

“If these bungalows could be restored, elderly people could move in and vacate their homes for someone else.”

Lambeth Council’s press manager Brian Brady said the council’s cabinet had finally agreed a transfer in July 2017.

“All the paperwork was subsequently sent to the Department for Communities and Local Government (as was) and Greater London Authority requesting the Secretary of State give formal consent to the transfer. The transfer can’t actually happen until this is done.

One of these semi detached bungalows is lived in; the other empty for years. Picture by Sue Cook

One of these semi detached bungalows is lived in; the other empty for years. Picture by Sue Cook

“We have issued frequent reminders since then but the Secretary of State did not provide consent until two weeks ago.

“We have now sent Sanctuary a draft contract and once this has been agreed between us we’ll be able to agree an actual transfer date.”

A Sanctuary Housing spokesman said: “While we remain committed to taking on these properties as soon as possible, until the transfer of ownership is completed they continue to be the responsibility of Lambeth Council.”

The Banesberie Close homes are some of 25 Lambeth-owned properties in Cherwell. Lambeth says they do not meet the Decent Homes Standard or the Lambeth Homes Standard, having been excluded from their work programmes due to their ‘out of borough’ location.

Lambeth Council aims to transfer these neglected homes to Sanctuary housing this summer. Picture by Sue Cook

Lambeth Council aims to transfer these neglected homes to Sanctuary housing this summer. Picture by Sue Cook

“There have been issues to do with squatting and general disrepair for which Lambeth is presently deemed liable,” a 2017 report says.

An assessment in June 2016 found the majority of the tenants are elderly, some over 85 years of age.