Case Study

Walterton and Elgin Community Homes

Poster designed by John Phillips for Walterton and Elgin Action Group, 1985

​Walterton and Elgin Community Homes (WECH) is a resident-controlled, community-owned housing organisation in north Paddington. It emerged out of a long-running campaign during the 1980s to prevent the sale and demolition by Westminster City Council of two large estates. WECH was able to use the so-called Tenants’ Choice legislation in the 1988 Housing Act to take over the management and ownership of 921 homes from the local authority, and is now one of the largest Community Land Trusts in England and Wales.

The housing north of Harrow Road in north Paddington had been built between 1865 and 1885. The land was bought in 1953 by the London County Council (LCC), which waited for the leases to expire in 1964. In the meantime the properties became used by speculative landlords who crammed the properties with tenants, charging high rents and undertaking few repairs. They left the housing in poor condition, typical of Rachmanite slum landlordism. In 1964 the area returned to the LCC, which became the Greater London Council (GLC) the following year. The authority divided the area into four strategic zones, slowly beginning the demolition, rehabilitation and sale of properties.

Caption here, date.

By 1980 the remaining GLC properties were concentrated on the Walterton and the Elgin estates. These were transferred to Westminster Council, which proposed selling the estates off to private developers for a dense rebuild programme. In a very swift response to this, residents formed the Walterton and Elgin Action Group (WEAG), demanding that the council withdraw its plans and prioritise residents’ needs and wishes. Eventually WEAG drew up its own plan for the provision of better homes for local people. The campaign persisted, and for the next three years the group lobbied the council’s Housing Committee, with over 100 people regularly attending its meetings.

Read more in the book (download below).

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