Brent Council snaps up ‘designer house’ for £1.1m to ‘remodel’ into rooms for most needy

Cllr Muhammed Butt, whose Labour group has increased its majority on Brent Council. Picture: Ken Mea

Cllr Muhammed Butt, whose Labour group has increased its majority on Brent Council. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Council chiefs have been slammed for buying a “designer home” for £1.1million in Harlesden when there are cheaper homes they could have converted in the neighbourhood.

Brent Council snapped up the “stunning five bedroom light-filled end-of-terrace house” in Fairlight Avenue to refurbish into six homes for vulnerable tenants.

The purchase is part of the council’s “new accommodation for independent living” (NAIL) programme for people with high care and support needs. It had been advertised at £1.2m.

The 90-home project, which the cabinet signed off in February 2017, is intended to be an alternative to “expensive residential and nursing care” that the council says will save £2.6m a year.

But Harlesden man Nick West said: “We are continually told the council has no money. Given the parlous state of council finances, why are they buying overpriced designer houses to then further modify?

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“They could easily have bought a comparable Victorian house in Harlesden for £700,000 and saved half a million quid.”

The house was marketed by Warwick Estate Agents as an “interior designed family home spanning over 2,000 sq ft, set across three floors, blending contemporary and period features.” The brochure also gushed about an “extended open plan kitchen and dining room flows out to a landscaped garden through glass bi-folding doors,” a “double reception room/library boasting high ceilings and cornicing with original timber floors” and “three beautifully crafted bathrooms, one of which connects to a generously sized master bedroom.”

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The property will be “remodelled” to contain six bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and community areas.

The secure tenancies will be paid through the tenants’ housing benefit allowance set by the government, which is separate from the care allowance that comes from the council.

A council spokesman said the NAIL programme would both improve the lives of vulnerable people and save the town hall money. He added: “Our property services team carefully examined the purchase and had the 193 square metre property independently surveyed, the outcome of which was that the purchase price, which is supported by an independent RICS market valuation, was considered right for the size of the property, condition and the area it’s in.”

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