Peterborough council could buy St Michael’s Gate estate where residents were evicted for city’s homeless

Temporary accommodation at the St Michael’s Gate estate in Parnwell could be bought by Peterborough City Council.

Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 7:12 am
St Michael's Gate in Peterborough
St Michael's Gate in Peterborough

The authority was roundly criticised in 2016 after the Peterborough Telegraph exclusively revealed 72 tenants at the estate were being evicted to be replaced by homeless families.

The saga brought widespread national and international coverage and led to calls for a law change, led by the PT.

Earlier this year the campaign drew success when the Government pledged to outlaw Section 21 evictions, meaning private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes without good reason.

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The evictions at St Michael’s Gate were carried out by private housing firm Stef & Philips, the managing agents of the properties which had been bought by Paul Simon Magic Homes.

The properties were then leased by Stef & Philips to Peterborough City Council which used them as temporary accommodation for its rising homeless population.

The council insisted that if did not rent the homes, Stef & Philips would have instead rented them to another local authority which would have moved homeless families from outside the city into Peterborough, costing local taxpayers millions of pounds.

However, the decision to do a deal with Stef & Philips for nearly £1 million a year provoked condemnation.

With the contract ending in November, the council has acknowledged it is in talks to potentially buy the properties, or extend the lease, as it continues to support high numbers of homeless families.

Cllr Steve Allen, cabinet member for housing, said: “We are in the very early stages of discussions with Stef & Philips on either purchasing or extending the lease. If an attractive purchase price is put on the table we would consider buying St Michael’s Gate.”

The homes are currently on the market, although a valuation has not been made public.

Jelena Stevic, one of two tenants not evicted from the estate, said the council should have looked at buying the properties ahead of Paul Simon Magic Homes when they were originally put up for sale.

She added: “It’s better late than never.”