City Hall has defended a decision to sell a block of flats being rented to “nurses and council workers” at affordable social rents.
The block at 30 Griffiths Road in Wimbledon is owned by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) which oversees the Metropolitan Police and took ownership of the force’s land and property portfolio when it replaced the Metropolitan Police Authority in January 2012.
MOPAC last year published a review of the Met’s almost 1m square metres of real estate which identified a number of sites no longer needed for operational use and which could be sold off.
Last week MayorWatch reported how the sale of around a third of surplus sites has raised almost £90m which MOPAC says will be reinvested in front-line policing and maintaining office numbers.
However the decision to sell off the Griffiths Road site has been criticised by London Assembly Member Baroness Jenny Jones who says the Mayor should retain the properties “as affordable housing for key workers” including new police officers.
Existing residents have reportedly been given until March to vacate their homes and Baroness Jones has expressed concern that they’ll be unable to afford to remain in the area.
She’s suggested that if MOPAC needs to make savings it should sell nine flats – worth a total of £2.28m – which are made available to senior Met officers.
Baroness Jones said: “Instead of providing housing for those at the top of the Met and the Mayor should be doing more to help those staff and officers who cannot afford London’s high housing costs.”
A spokesman for MOPAC defended the sale and said Crown Housing Association, to which it sub-lets the Griffiths Road properties, has “offered to explore alternative accommodation” with the residents.
The spokesman added: “Over a long period, the Metropolitan Police acquired a large and expensive estate – some of which was comprised of a number of residential properties that are now no longer required.
“As part of our plans to balance the budget and keep police numbers high, MOPAC is releasing properties to make savings.
“No MPS officers or staff live in the 30 Griffiths Road property and the property is sub-let to a social housing provider – Crown Housing. Professional housing associations that own their own sites are best placed to provide the quality and stability that tenants deserve.”