Southwark Council has blown £140,000 erecting a wall as ugly as it is intimidating around a housing estate in south London.
The 700 metre long barrier, topped with metal spikes and standing eight feet tall, has been built around four blocks of the Aylesbury Estate at a cost of £200 per metre. The hefty pricing has been revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
The wall has been put up in response to protests surrounding the planned demolition of the estate, with the majority of properties in the blocks unoccupied.
Well, at least officially unoccupied, with squatters moving into some of the empty flats. Aylesbury Estate is due to be transformed as part of a £1.5 billion regeneration project, with the wall leading to a "siege mentality" for those staying put in the properties as long as possible. Security men have also been employed in an effort to curb squatting on the estate, while residents are left with only one way in or out of the flats.
"It's ghastly, it's a squandering of money in order to make way for social cleansing," said housing campaigner Piers Corbyn, who believes the living conditions of long-term residents are being brushed aside in order to use scare tactics against the squatters.
"It's an utter scandal. The whole of that section of the Aylesbury estate is fenced off, tenants and leaseholders are living in a kind of Berlin Wall situation."
However, council officials maintain that the wall has been put in place as a safety measure for the remaining residents.
"Only 18 of the 560 properties in this part of the estate are now being lived in," Councillor Mark Williams, Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, told the Standard.
"The fence was installed as a direct response to those remaining residents who expressed concerns about security on the site and anti-social behaviour from non-residents passing through. We understand this has caused some problems for the remaining residents, we will review whether any changes to access points are possible.”
Council lawyers will now appeal Lambeth County Court, for a third time, for a possession order to evict the squatters. In the meantime, those on the estate will have to live around the intimidating monstrosity for the foreseeable future. [Southwark Notes, Standard]