On 2nd April 2020, just as COVID-19 brought the country to a standstill and people were worried about their health, their jobs, and their homes, Pemberstone reminded our estate not to forget their unique capacity to destabilise people’s lives… they submitted an appeal against Leeds City Council’s rejection of the planning application.
Just like Speed 2: Cruise Control, it is the sequel everyone expected but nobody wanted.
The grounds for Pemberstone’s appeal are, unsurprisingly, a bit of a rehash of the original application: the properties are deteriorating, they will soon be structurally unsound and unliveable, Pemberstone have “no options available” but to demolish them and build fancy new houses that the current residents won’t be able to live in. Etc. Etc. It’s a bit like saying an out of control cruise ship offers something substantively different to an out of control bus, and hoping viewers won’t notice it’s essentially *the same* plot—only with a higher budget and poorer quality acting.
The clincher in the case of the appeal is that they’re trying to turn our own community’s vulnerabilities against us.
Like some dastardly cartoon villain, Pemberstone are—without shame—saying in their appeal report that they recognise the community’s vulnerabilities (e.g. the fact that nearly 50% of households have someone with a disability) and that EVICTING THEM AND DEMOLISHING THEIR HOMES IS THE ONLY WAY TO PREVENT MORE HARM.
What about bringing the homes up to a modern standard and keeping the tenants on? Pemberstone may have neglected maintenance to date, which is why the houses are in such a state in the first place, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late. We’ve had multiple engineers approach us explaining how easily these homes can be brought up to modern standards of insulation and energy efficiency (and for a fraction of the costs Pemberstone have proposed).
Anyway, you know the plot, you know the characters. Some of it is just too exhausting to repeat.
From our side, we will continue to fight. We will challenge this planning application wherever necessary—with the council, the government or in the courts. We have a fundraiser on JustGiving where so many people have already so generously contributed (thank you!) – if you’re able to donate, your support is really appreciated. We are planning to use this money to get the ball rolling for legal advice as soon as possible.
During COVID-19 this community, like neighbours across the country, have checked on each other, shopped for each other, and offered care and support to those who have needed it. It simply cannot and should not be true in 2020 that the only way to address tenant vulnerability is to demolish these safety nets and push people elsewhere. Let’s see if compassion and social responsibility can prevail over profit.
To be continued…