WWII veteran fears Mitcham home on Eastfields estate will be demolished by Circle Housing Merton Priory

War veteran Compton Wilkinson

War veteran Compton Wilkinson

First published in News
Last updated
Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A war veteran who fears his home will be demolished by a housing association is calling on the council to intervene.

Compton Wilkinson, 86, is one of more than 1,000 residents facing temporary eviction after Circle Housing Merton Priory (CHMP) announced plans to rebuild three estates.

Mr Wilkinson moved to Britain from Guyana, a former British colony in South America, to help fight the Nazis when he was just 16.

He was among thousands of troops sent to the frontline in France to defeat the advancing German army in 1944.

After being demobbed in 1947, he bought a terraced house in Tooting for £385, married and had two daughters.

The veteran, who worked for the BBC World Service before starting his own plastics business in Brixton, said: "On June 1 1960 I moved to Mitcham and knew there was nowhere else I’d ever want to live."

But last November he was informed by housing association CHMP his home of nine years could be demolished if plans to redevelop the Eastfields estate are approved by the council.

Mr Wilkinson, who lives alone, said: "It may be nothing special to someone else but it’s my home. My vision and hearing are both failing to the extent I am now registered as disabled.

"If they push me out to who knows where, how will I start again and how will I know where everything is?"

CHMP took control of Merton Council’s housing stock in 2010 and announced redevelopment plans following a summer consultation with residents, including a questionnaire, exhibitions and workshops.

Eastfields residents association (ERA) is now demanding a council investigation into CHMP’s consultation, claiming residents have not been given an option about whether their homes will be knocked down.

Paul Grant, ERA member, said: "We live in three bedroom homes with garages. The amount residents would get for their properties would be £200,000, which sounds like a lot, but it is not in this area.

"Pensioners would not be able to get a mortgage. They would have to move out of London."

Paul Quinn, director of regeneration at CHMP said: "We understand Mr Wilkinson's concerns and encourage him to contact us so we can talk about his situation.

"There will be many opportunities for all Eastfields residents to contribute to the regeneration proposals through a series of exhibitions, tours, informal coffee mornings and one to one visits.

"For example we are currently working on a whole range of options which will enable residents like Mr Wilkinson to stay on Eastfields in much better quality housing and surroundings."

Wimbledon Guardian:

Protesting: Compton Wilkinson with Eastfields estate neighbours 

Plans for the redevelopment being drawn up by architects until the end of the year will have to be approved by the council before any building work goes ahead.

Councillor Nick Draper, cabinet member for housing, said: "When the last Conservative administration handed over all our ex-council housing, Circle Housing made a number of promises.

"Labour wants Circle to listen to residents and live up to their promises. We could only support new development if residents support it, disruption is kept to a minimum, existing residents get better housing and there is more affordable housing for local people."

Comments (5)

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7:59am Tue 13 May 14

Eastfields Estate resident says...

Paul Quinn quotes "There will be many opportunities for all Eastfields residents to contribute to the regeneration proposals through a series of exhibitions, tours, informal coffee mornings and one to one visits.' How about CHMP understanding that the majority of residents DONT want the regeneration to go ahead?? I, for one, dont want to plan what the new houses will look like or how the streets will be laid out as I wont be able to afford to live here anymore.
Paul Quinn quotes "There will be many opportunities for all Eastfields residents to contribute to the regeneration proposals through a series of exhibitions, tours, informal coffee mornings and one to one visits.' How about CHMP understanding that the majority of residents DONT want the regeneration to go ahead?? I, for one, dont want to plan what the new houses will look like or how the streets will be laid out as I wont be able to afford to live here anymore. Eastfields Estate resident
  • Score: 5

3:34pm Tue 13 May 14

Eastfields Resident says...

Mr Wilkinson is a war hero and the contempt shown to him by Circle Housing shows that tenants and home owners aren’t even an afterthought to them.

The July 2013 Merton Cabinet minutes (available online) reveal that the management board of Circle Housing had decided to demolish three Merton estates in December 2012. That’s 7 months before the shame ‘join the conversation’ fun days held in a tent in the back garden of Eastfields Estate. You may remember the events: Circle Housing offered face painting to children, baked cookies for attendees and forgot to mention anything about a knocking our homes down.

Circle Housing should apologise to Mr Wilkinson and the residents of all three estates, hang their heads in shame and remove their threat to bulldoze our homes.
Mr Wilkinson is a war hero and the contempt shown to him by Circle Housing shows that tenants and home owners aren’t even an afterthought to them. The July 2013 Merton Cabinet minutes (available online) reveal that the management board of Circle Housing had decided to demolish three Merton estates in December 2012. That’s 7 months before the shame ‘join the conversation’ fun days held in a tent in the back garden of Eastfields Estate. You may remember the events: Circle Housing offered face painting to children, baked cookies for attendees and forgot to mention anything about a knocking our homes down. Circle Housing should apologise to Mr Wilkinson and the residents of all three estates, hang their heads in shame and remove their threat to bulldoze our homes. Eastfields Resident
  • Score: 5

3:36pm Tue 13 May 14

Eastfields Resident says...

It appears that Circle Housing has chosen to embark on a path to reputational damage that will be truly immense. They risk becoming to Social Landlords what Southern Cross and Castlebeck became to Social Care.

Having been gifted 9,000 Merton Homes for £1.2 million they are embarking on a demolition programme of homes(most of which Circle don’t even own) on three Merton Estates without even the most basic consultation with their occupants.
It appears that Circle Housing has chosen to embark on a path to reputational damage that will be truly immense. They risk becoming to Social Landlords what Southern Cross and Castlebeck became to Social Care. Having been gifted 9,000 Merton Homes for £1.2 million they are embarking on a demolition programme of homes(most of which Circle don’t even own) on three Merton Estates without even the most basic consultation with their occupants. Eastfields Resident
  • Score: 4

2:38pm Wed 14 May 14

EastfieldsResident says...

I doubt there will be many opportunities for all to be involved if the previous efforts by CHMP are anything to go by.
Firstly the number of votes passing the initial transfer of stock from Merton Council to Merton Priory is still questionable due to the numbers they claim were involved, it was a very small percentage who had the vote.
Secondly no one I know including members of ERA have even been approached about the master planning, the layout of the proposed units or the needs and requirements of existing tenants. Due to the farcical manner they claim to have consulted residents under a guise of regeneration that came across as a pretended interest to revamp and modernise the estates is insulting, when all the time they were planning to demolish and rebuild, squeezing as many units they possibly can to maximize shared profits between themselves and the council.
They will no doubt brief the master planners to design to the absolute minimum requirements of the building regulations in the cheapest way possible and resident will lose their much loved open area in the middle of Eastfields estate.
The so called independent advisor appointed by CHMP to advice residents, yes I very much doubt impartiality or a conflict of interest there. They only quote those that will benefit from this regeneration. CHMP have in my opinion purposely let the estates deteriorate since they took responsibility to further facilitate their objects in achieving their goal in demolition of the estates. This again in my opinion is an attempt to devalue the properties and now that they have started banding terms of demolition and master planning this will further decrease the value of any freeholders wanting to sell their properties in the short term. Freeholders stand to lose the most financially from this and have been excluded on mass from this process yet they account for almost a quarter of the residents of Eastfields.

I do wonder, if the flippant attitudes of the individuals driving this rebuild would be the same if their lives were to be blighted by this drawn out process, stress of the unknown, been forced to relocate, the financial loss incurred if their own properties were under threat.
I wonder what tune they would be singing then
I doubt there will be many opportunities for all to be involved if the previous efforts by CHMP are anything to go by. Firstly the number of votes passing the initial transfer of stock from Merton Council to Merton Priory is still questionable due to the numbers they claim were involved, it was a very small percentage who had the vote. Secondly no one I know including members of ERA have even been approached about the master planning, the layout of the proposed units or the needs and requirements of existing tenants. Due to the farcical manner they claim to have consulted residents under a guise of regeneration that came across as a pretended interest to revamp and modernise the estates is insulting, when all the time they were planning to demolish and rebuild, squeezing as many units they possibly can to maximize shared profits between themselves and the council. They will no doubt brief the master planners to design to the absolute minimum requirements of the building regulations in the cheapest way possible and resident will lose their much loved open area in the middle of Eastfields estate. The so called independent advisor appointed by CHMP to advice residents, yes I very much doubt impartiality or a conflict of interest there. They only quote those that will benefit from this regeneration. CHMP have in my opinion purposely let the estates deteriorate since they took responsibility to further facilitate their objects in achieving their goal in demolition of the estates. This again in my opinion is an attempt to devalue the properties and now that they have started banding terms of demolition and master planning this will further decrease the value of any freeholders wanting to sell their properties in the short term. Freeholders stand to lose the most financially from this and have been excluded on mass from this process yet they account for almost a quarter of the residents of Eastfields. I do wonder, if the flippant attitudes of the individuals driving this rebuild would be the same if their lives were to be blighted by this drawn out process, stress of the unknown, been forced to relocate, the financial loss incurred if their own properties were under threat. I wonder what tune they would be singing then EastfieldsResident
  • Score: 4

12:48am Thu 15 May 14

tjames says...

are circle not for profit?
are circle not for profit? tjames
  • Score: 0

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