Billionaire Duke to kick families out of council homes to build luxury flats
EXCLUSIVE: Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, has been accused of ‘social cleansing’
By Alan Selby 24 AUG 2019
A billionaire Duke has been accused of “social cleansing” for planning to boot 40 families out of council homes to make way for luxury flats.
Hugh Grosvenor, 28, the Duke of Westminster, is the world’s wealthiest person aged under 30 after inheriting his title three years ago.
His property group Grosvenor aims to demolish Walden House, which it leases to Westminster Council, by 2023 and replace it with shops and homes, including social housing.
A total of 141 people, eight disabled, have been told to leave the homes they have lived in for up to 40 years.
Hugh Grosvenor is the 7th Duke of Westminster
They can apply for new homes up to 12 miles away but some fear a life on the streets after being told of decades-long waits on housing lists.
NHS PA Liza Begum, 34, who has been at Walden House all her life, said: “It’s social cleansing.”
Families now paying £600 a month for a two-bed council flat fear they won’t get a chance to live in the new development alongside luxury properties.
Liza said the residents were told only in March, seven years after private tenants in neighbouring flats.
She said: “What do Grosvenor expect us to do?
“Move from a place we’ve been for 30-plus years and start again? It’s ridiculous.”
A petition against the Duke’s plans has more than 100,000 signatures.
Grosvenor said it wanted more affordable housing in the area and had delayed demolition from 2021 to 2023 to give residents more time.
“We have been providing tailored support over and above what is required to help residents,” it said.
The council said: “We negotiated a two-year extension to the lease, to 2023, to allow more time to find residents accommodation.
All will be offered suitable alternative council accommodation within Westminster.”
Sign the petition at change.org.