“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Saturday, 20 December 2014

New Era. A tale of two very different estates.

It's going to be a Christmas to remember down on Hoxton's New Era Estate. Hard work and gritty determination on the part of tenants resulted in rent-racking landlords Westbrook Holdings deciding to sell up to Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation. Affordable rent now seems a certainty for New Era tenants for at least the next twelve months and I for one just doff my cap to an outstanding victory by ordinary folk against a seemingly powerful adversary.  But nothing is quite what it seems in the London  property market and there is a backstory here that I suspect we will hear more of in the New Year.
Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation has an interesting history.
The Dolphin Square development in Pimlico was built by Costain in the 1930's and after passing through the hands of several owners was eventually acquired in the 60's by Westminster City Council who sub-let the site to Dolphin Square Trust who would manage the development and act as a kind of housing association for the next forty years.
The list of former tenants and sub-tenants at the square reads like Who's Who of twentieth century scandal, show-biz, politics and espionage. Everyone from William (Lord Haw Haw) Joyce to Mandy Rice Davies and Christine Keeler, Bud Flanagan, Oswald Mosley, Harold Wilson; all lived in the square at one time or another. If ongoing Met investigations are anything to go by there was also a very dark side to Dolphin Square with the possibility of a paedophile ring and even the murder of some children taking place there.
In 2005 Westminster City Council and Dolphin Square Trust sold the site and with an endowment  resulting from the sale Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation was set up. Some tenants were less than happy with the new owners but such is life.  Now the foundation seem to have rescued New Era tenants from the rapacious clutches of Westbrook Holdings. And the 2005 purchasers of Dolphin Square?  Er… Westbrook Holdings.
For those who have the stomach for it, the full financial and legal low-down here.

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