UCLH Charity is evicting 10 hospital staff as well as other tenants from their homes in Huntley Street WC1 to make way for renovating the flats. After the flats are refurbished UCLH Charity intend to rent them out as luxury accommodation to take advantage of the high rents properties can now command in Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury.
The move comes in the wake of UCLH Charity selling several blocks of flats last year to the property developer the Marcus Cooper Group who went on to evict the hospital staff before refurbishing the properties to attract overseas investors.
At a meeting arranged by Anna Coverdale of public relations company Coverdale Barclay, Peter Burroughs of UCLH Charity said that his organisation had been treated unfairly by news reporting in Fitzrovia News.
UCLH Charity was keen to stress to Fitzrovia News that the extra rental income generated would be put back into provide much-needed clinical services and improvements to UCL Hospitals.
This will come as little comfort for hospital staff who have been given two months notice to quit their homes at 46 to 60 Huntley Street.
In an attempt to mitigate the effects of the evictions, UCLH Charity is providing support from property consultants Alasdair McGowan and Lauren Buck of Urbaninvest who say they will help the hospital staff identify alternative property.
However, when I asked Mr McGowan what was the likelihood of evicted staff being able to find alternative property at similar rents nearby, he failed to give me an answer. I suggested it was highly unlikely that similar property could be found. I also questioned the morality of UCLH Charity in first selling off hospital staff homes to a property developer and the current evictions to make way for tenants who could pay £2,000 a month for flats in Fitzrovia. How many hospital staff can afford those rents?
Much of the property UCLH Charity had acquired was legacy property given to the Middlesex Hospital through benefactors. After the meeting with UCLH Charity I went to see a tenant at Huntley Street. The man I spoke to confirmed that one of his neighbours had received the eviction notice. I also spoke to other staff within UCLH who had heard about the current round of evictions. Everyone I spoke to questioned the actions of UCLH Charity.
In a statement Peter Burroughs, Enterprise Director for UCLH Charity, said, “As part of the Charity’s ongoing programme of refurbishment to maintain its properties to the highest of standards, quality and safety and maximise its re-investment back into its core charitable commitments in education, medical research and people, it has been necessary to commence proceedings to terminate the leases on these properties and to help our tenants as far as we possibly can”.
UCLH Charity provided Fitzrovia News with a briefing document.