EXCLUSIVE: Villagers say they were ‘blindsided’ and want to sell up after council announced plan to move refugees into new homes
- The council bought 12 houses on the new build estate for just over £1.8million
- But residents said they only found out about the plans after seeing it on the news
Villagers have claimed they were ‘blindsided’ by plans to house Ukrainian and Afghan refugees in a newbuild estate.
Locals living in rural Langtoft, Lincolnshire, have reacted with anger after it emerged the council would be housing Afghan and Ukrainian families on the estate, where houses are being sold for up to £720,000.
South Kesteven District Council bought 12 of the houses for just over £1.8million, using joint funding from the Government’s Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) and the Council’s Housing Revenue Account budget.
The dozen homes are a mix of two and three-bedroom new-builds and two-bedroom bungalows which were already identified for social housing, according to the council.
It comes after more than 180 councils have been allocated funding by the from the LAHF, which is worth £500 million nationally, to provide homes for legal migrants from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Local Liz Gage, 66, said: ‘I just feel that it’s a bit of a cop-out from the council.
‘They keep saying the money was for refugees, but we’ve got Langtoft families who are on the housing list.
‘If they said that they’d built 12 houses and six were going to local people and six were going to refugees, it would be fine.
‘But when you step over the local people, and I’m not saying the refugee’s don’t need help as they do, I don’t feel they’ve taken into account us.
‘There was no confirmation with anyone until the press let us know. They wouldn’t have sold them to us for so cheap.
‘What are they trying to hide? We are the forgotten branch of the council. If you’re not in Grantham it doesn’t exist.
‘They should’ve bought 12 houses in Grantham. Langtoft hasn’t got a town.
‘For a refugee, where are they going to shop? It’s a six-mile walk to Tesco and back, there’s only one small corner shop. They are trapped, this is a commuter village.
‘I do feel sorry for the refugees and I understand that they need somewhere to live. Of course I do.
‘It’s not convenient for someone who doesn’t know anyone and doesn’t have a car. It just feels as if there’s something else that we aren’t party to.’
Housing developer Ashwood Homes boasts the 41 ‘high-specification homes’ that comprise its Woodland Rise development are in a ‘beautiful rural location’, with three of the houses listed for sale for between £600,000-£720,000.
The council expects to take ownership of the 12 properties by the end of the month and they will be used to house Ukraine and Afghan migrants who have arrived in the UK legally.
It has £4.4million earmarked for a total of 21 properties for the re-housing scheme, with £2,383,750 coming from the council’s Housing Revenue Account and £2,098,750 of funding allocated by the Government Local Authority Housing Fund.
South Kesteven District Council is one of three local authorities in Lincolnshire and among over 180 nationwide to be selected to benefit from the Government’s fund.
The fund helps provide affordable homes for legal evacuees until their visas expire in around three to five years’ time, by supporting local authorities.
It can be used for, but is not limited to, acquiring, refurbishing, converting and developing properties to provide housing for Ukrainian and Afghan families under the government’s humanitarian schemes.
This could include acquiring new build properties ‘off-the-shelf’, according to government guidance.
The council said the homes will later be occupied by families on its Housing Register.
A woman who lives closest to the development site on the new estate said that she was told the homes would be shared ownership but was left shocked when they were revealed to be homes for refugees.
The woman, who said she has considered selling her house, said: ‘We’ve just been blindsided by it. We were told that they were shared ownership.
‘We bought the house and they said it was seven shared ownership and five affordable houses, that’s what all our contracts said.
‘We didn’t get told, we got told on Tuesday morning, we saw it on the news. We were told that Afghans and Ukrainians were moving in.
‘We don’t care who’s in there to be honest. We think that these Ukrainians and Afghan refugees are normal people and they need a house.
‘We’d like to sell our house at some point and I don’t think that it’s doing the development any good.
‘Personally we wouldn’t have bought it if it was all going to be social housing.
‘They were sold to the council for £150,000.
‘We’ve kept quite tight lipped as we don’t want people to see us as coming across as we don’t want them here, it’s not that at all.
‘It was kind of misrepresented. I spoke to the council and he basically wished me good luck.
‘They’re moving in them towards the end of August. We can’t understand it, the house on the corner is one million pounds, and they haven’t sold all of these yet.
‘We love our house, we love the estate. We’ve lived here eight months.’
Another local said: ‘We weren’t told or advised about the houses.
‘If they haven’t got cars, I don’t know if they will give them cars, but there’s only buses here and they only run until 8am. There’s only one medical centre here.
‘The people who bought those houses must be furious.
‘I’ve got a feeling whoever built the houses didn’t look into who would buy them and built too many. A lot of the farms now have sold off their land.
‘The buses stop running early so they’d be essentially trapped here for a bit in the evening if they don’t drive.’
David Galloway, 56, lives near the development but said he doesn’t mind them housing refugee’s, so long as no one bothers him.
David said: ‘I’m not biased about how comes here. I’m not bothered about who lives there, as long as they don’t bother me that’s fine.
‘My personal belief is that when we take people into our country, it puts a big burden on us. We don’t use our money correctly in the first place.
‘This country’s not paved with gold. It matters to me in the sense that the door is far too open.
‘The council lied to us from the start. They sent us a questionnaire to see what we think but didn’t use it.’
MailOnline has contacted South Kevesten District Council for comment.