BAA refuses to sell homes it bought in Sipson

BAA is being accused of “breaking the heart” of residents in Sipson, which is earmarked as the location for a 3rd Heathrow runway. Now Labour has joined the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in declaring that a 3rd runway is “off the agenda”, residents in Sipson say BAA still refuses to sell the homes it bought up in the area, as it has not yet ruled out the expansion. BAA offered to buy 300 homes and 75% of residents took up the offer, so BAA now rents the houses.

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BAA refuses to sell homes it bought in Heathrow village

Mark Prigg, Science and Technology Editor

BAA was today accused of “breaking the heart” of residents in a village earmarked
as the location for a third Heathrow runway.

As the Labour party joined the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in declaring
that building a new landing strip is “off the agenda”, residents in the Hillingdon
village of Sipson say BAA still refuses to sell the homes it bought up in the
area.

The airport operator told the BBC’s Inside Out programme it has not yet ruled
out the expansion.

Nigel Milton, director of policy and political relations at BAA, said: “The business
community nationally and trade unions and the aviation industry still believe
that there is a strong case for expansion of airports in the South- East and that
a third runway is one of those options that needs to be considered.”

He added: “Until the Government comes up with a clear plan of what they are going
to do to address this real, urgent need, then a third runway remains an option.”

BAA offered to buy 300 homes and three quarters of residents took up the offer.
BAA is now renting out those properties on short-term lets but refuses to sell
them.

“While a third runway remains an option it would be premature of us to sell those
properties to people and then at some future date have to buy them back again,”
said Mr Milton.

Doris Booty, who is 83 and born and bred in Sipson, feels that this has changed
the nature of the village dramatically.

“The village has just gone down so much,” she said. “The gardens are bad and
the houses look terrible, everything has gone downhill.

“You walk through the village and everybody is a stranger now. We would like
to move but it’s too much for us now at our age. It’s breaking my heart to stay.”

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24009478-baa-refuses-to-sell-homes-it-bought-in-heathrow-village.do

 

see also

 

Residents of Sipson, near Heathrow, divided over house sales

NoTRAG’s Geraldine Nicholson and Linda McCutcheon urged residents to sit tight
until after the general election, when the third runway could be scrapped.

26.1.2010  (BBC)
 

A quarter of residents of a village, which will be wiped out if Heathrow’s third
runway goes ahead, have tried to sell their homes to BAA.

Proposals for the runway have made it difficult for residents of Sipson village
to sell their properties.

Heathrow operator BAA has offered to buy 400 homes in the village.

Almost 100 owners have applied for their properties to be purchased and BAA has
made offers on 45, since it launched a scheme in October 2009.

‘Fair compensation’

BAA has offered to purchase properties within the area in its Property Market
Support Bond scheme.

The airport operator said it would also fund legal and removal costs and stamp
duty equivalent to the value of properties at the time they are sold to BAA.

But anti-expansion campaigners and residents have raised fears that the community
is being destroyed and have urged other residents not to sell up. 

“We want people to sit tight until after the general election, and see if we
have a more sympathetic government that would drop the third runway,” said anti-expansion campaigner Geraldine Nicolson (NoTRAG).

“We are asking people not to sell up and move out,” she added. “We want to keep
the fabric of the community.”

Sipson resident Lynne Davies filled out the form for BAA to buy her home before she changed her mind, deciding the offer was too low.

“If I agreed to the price, I couldn’t afford to move near to my family,” she
said.

BAA strategy director Michael Forster said: “We did consult on the scheme we
brought forward.”

“It is in line with sorts of schemes that are used in this instance and we think
it’s fair compensation,” he added.

The government has agreed to a third runway but the Conservatives and Lib Dems
are fighting the plans.

If all goes according to the government’s plan, construction on Heathrow’s third
runway will start in 2015.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8479253.stm
 
 
 
 
see also NoTRAG  (No Third Runway Action Group):

BAA puts villages under threat even if third runway scrapped

 Monday 25th January 2010

By starting to buy up properties in Sipson and Harmondsworth, BAA is chipping
away at the village communities and putting their long-term survival under threat.
(See Oct 09 archive)

The BBC reported that, of the 400 properties eligible under the bond scheme,
the owners of 100 properties had applied to sell to BAA. It said BAA had made
offers on 45.

 

While some residents have needed to move, others have enquired about selling
because they fear what will happen to the villages once BAA take over properties
and let them to short-term tenants.

However, not all those given an offer have been happy with the valuation of their
home, which they feel is insufficient to buy a similar property elsewhere.

NoTRAG’s Geraldine Nicholson and Linda McCutcheon were interviewed for the report
and urged residents to sit tight until after the general election, when the third
runway could be scrapped.
http://www.notrag.org/
 
 
see also November 2010

For Sipson villagers the struggle continues

SIPSON village is used to fighting – but as hundreds move out of the village
to escape the devastation caused by years of blight, what about those left behind?
Reporter DAN COOMBS visited the village to speak to businesses who have branded
it a ‘ghost town’, finding a pub and post office fighting for survival…

THE words ‘third runway’ and Sipson are synonymous, after a decade long battle.

For many, the fight for expansion of Heathrow Airpoty is over, or at least dormant,
until the political pendulum swings back in its favour.

Hundreds of those who felt trapped in the village they loved, have taken BAA’s
money from their compulsory purchase offer, and decided to move on.

Most left in the village say they can’t blame them, the price that was offered
was so good.

Offered the 2002 market price, all their fees paid for plus a generous index
price, the one-off chance to cut and run proved too good an offer to refuse.

Among those who have moved on were the chair of the Harmondsworth and Sipson
Residents Association Jim Payne and his family, and No Third Runway Action Group
(NoTRAG) stalwart Linda McCutcheon.

But for those still left, particularly the businesses, life is not the same as
it once was.

Houses have been left empty, as BAA takes on a ‘modernising’ programme, which
many feel has been allowed to drag on far longer than it should have.

Villagers feel that unless families and professionals are enabled to start moving
in soon, and contributing to the local economy, what is left, will be allowed
to die.

Sipson struggles for passing trade, as its location finds itself strangled between
the behemoths of Heathrow Airport and the surrounding motorways, so businesses
are reliant on regular customers.

sipson Image 1

Jackie Clark runs the Hair by Jackie hairdressers in Sipson Road.

She is the granddaughter of Jack Clark, one of Sipson’s oldest residents to fight
the third runway, who died in March 2009.

She tells a grim story of the current state of affairs of her business, blaming
the fact many of her regulars have moved on.

“The opening up and sudden closure of the bond scheme caused panic for people.

“You constantly see removal vans in the village, and my customers are always
coming in saying they will be leaving soon.

“They were offered great prices by BAA so I can understand, especially in today’s
market, but there has been nothing offered to us businesses. It has really divided
the community.

“We can’t sell as nobody wants a business here, we are blighted in the same way
as with the runway.

“I have lost one quarter of my annual turnover, including clients I have had
for over 20 years. It is turning into a ghost town, its not the thriving community
I grew up in, BAA have destroyed the village.

She feels the constant flow of people moving away has had another effect.

“By my estimates, its close to 300 houses empty. They are all sitting in darkness,and
are big properties with three to four bedrooms, which means there is less security
for us here, it needs to be stepped up.”

She is worried the threat of the third runway will one day return, and be even
harder to resist.

“BAA won’t sell the houses they now own, and will be the majority landowner in
the village, so who will oppose them? Most of our fighters have gone. The residents
association have gone, we don’t know who to contact.

“In 10 years time the businesses won’t be here at this rate, it will be a shanty
town.”

sipson Image 2

Jagjit and Kuldip Daurka, manage the Post Office in Sipson Road.

They say the queues which once reflected a busy and thriving village have now
all but disappeared, leaving them with a trickle of passing trade.

Kuldip Daurka said: “We are not doing too well. We used to have big queues on
pension day and child benefit day, but not any more.

“The problems started with the recession and got worse when the bond kicked in.
BAA are supposed to be modernising and bringing people in, but everything is taking
so long.

“We used to open at 7.30am until 9pm. Now we open at 8.30am and close at 7pm.
It is pointless staying open the extra hours, we are paying electricity and staff
wages that would see us making a loss.”

Husband Jagjit said: “We are looking at putting an office into the building,
to try to enable us to open a side business. This alone at the moment is a struggle.

“The fighters in the village have all gone, if they have moved, why should we
stay? They did not think about us.

“It is good the people with family problems were able to move, but everybody
was fighting against something so hard, they have been to quick to abandon what
they were fighting for.

“At the very least BAA should give us the same option I feel like I do not want
to carry on, but I’m stuck, we can’t sell it and we have a lease for around seven
years. It is catch 22.”

sipson Image 3

Gerald Storr runs the butchers next door to the Post Office on Sipson Road.

He admits to running the business in near darkness to save on electricity, putting
on the lights only when a customer enters.

“The number of people in the village goes down every week. This is usually a
busy time of year but it has not been like that.

“My taking are around 30 per cent down and that is a conservative estimate.

“Five years ago business was fine and 10 it was brilliant. All the regulars have
gone, and we are left with several short term rentals.

“BAA have created a monster because the village is dying.

“I don’t know what can be done, they are supposed to be leasing the properties
out and refurbishing them.”

sipson Image 4

Shaun Walters is the landlord of the historic King William IV pub, and has to
cope with the difficulties of his customers moving away, and the current state
of the pub industry.

The 16th Century pub is the focal point of the village, and was a hub of activity
months ago when television crews covered the story of the third runway cancellation.

Now that seems like a distant memory as pub regulars sell up and move on.

Mr Walters said: “The good news is that the brewery have finally agreed to fund
some refurbishments to the car park and the front of the pub, which they wouldn’t
do with the threat of the runway hanging over us.

“But so many people have gone its going to be too late.

“There are countless houses sitting empty, I want to know why it is taking so
long to get people in, it is costing us money. Regulars leaving can cost me up
to £200 a week.

“We have had a few people in who are renting while they carry out work on the
refurbishment of Terminal 2.

“It is important we get the right people into the village otherwise it won’t
be a community, its affecting me big time.

“We need professionals living down here, and families. At the moment nobody knows
each other.

“I used to take 40 minutes to walk to work from Ashby Way as I was bumping into
people I knew and would stop to chat. Now it takes me five minutes.

sipson Image 5

BAA claim that their figures show only around 100 properties acquired as a result
of the bond scheme are currently empty.

They said the delays in finding new tenants for them is to make them suitable
for living. They also say they intend to meet with Hillingdon Council to discuss
how they can help meet the borough’s housing needs.

However, they have said firmly that they are not looking to offer compensation
to businesses.

Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive, said: “I recognise that our move to buy
properties in Sipson was welcomed by some and not by others.

“We have worked closely with the Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents Association
to support village life.

“For example, we jointly produced the enclosed leaflet which is given to all
new tenants to tell them about the facilities and services available in the village.
We also put together a joint Code of Conduct that all tenants must sign and adhere
to prevent anti-social behaviour. This is working well.

“Nevertheless, the majority of properties we own have now been rented out, many
to families or airport-workers who we hope are making use of local services.

“I appreciate these are difficult economic times for all businesses.

“While we are not able to compensate individual businesses, we would be happy
to discuss other practical ways we might be able to help this and other businesses
in the village.”

John McDonnell MP for the area, has done a lot to fight for the village against
the runway, and is continuing to take up the fight.

He is planning to arrange a meeting with BAA to discuss what can be done to help
businesses.

“We are looking to see if we can get some business rate relief. It is a dire
situation in the villages at the moment.

“The village needs to stabilise, and if we do not get what we want from BAA I
will be taking the issue to Government ministers.

“The businesses such as the pub and the post office are the lifeblood of the
community. If they go then what is there left?

“BAA did promise to let out the premises long-term to families or airport workers,
they need to fulfil these promises.

A ray of hope?

THE Hillingdon Community Trust was formed back in 2003, as the result of the
construction of Heathrow Terminal 5 and a commitment made by BAA to provide £1m
a year for 15 years, which would be ploughed back into the community and supporting
local businesses.

In September the Trust appealed to find out how communities across the south
of the borough wanted this to be spent.

After feedback from village residents, a meeting has been set up to talk about
how the Heathrow villages could benefit.

David Brough, one of the trustees of the charity, told the Gazette they were
open to suggestions, and that the villages would be worthy recipients of the grant.

“We are going to hold a meeting to discuss how to rebuild Sipson and Harmondsworth,
putting it out to public consultation, we want to help. The money has come from
the airport, so it seems right that the villages who have suffered, get something
back.”

TIMELINE:

2002: Third runway announced on Government White paper

August 2007: Climate camp held in Sipson to protest as green campaigners highlight
the cause

January 2009: Labour Government approve third runway

October 2009: BAA open bond scheme

March 2010: Campaigners supported by local councils win legal battle against
the third runway

May 2010: Coalition Government scrap third runway

June 2010: BAA close bond scheme, and villagers begin to move out

December 2010: Businesses plea for help to avoid hitting the wall
 
http://www.uxbridgegazette.co.uk/west-london-news/local-uxbridge-news/2010/11/29/for-sipson-villagers-the-struggle-continues-113046-27735977/