Housing activists targeted four branches of Savills in south London last weekend in protest at social housing policy. Three branches shut down for the day.
The demonstrators, in a small-scale protest that looked to be about ten people in one video clip, made their presence felt at Savills in Northcote Road, Clapham, and marched past two other branches in nearby Battersea last weekend in protest at social housing policy in Lambeth.
Despite the agency side of Savills being totally separate to the advisory aspect of the business, protestors from Lambeth Housing Activists said they are unhappy with Savills’ so-called influence over housing policy.
They stood outside branches singing and displaying banners branding the firm as “SaVILLAINS.”
The activists say on their website “At national level, Savills ‘advised’ the government on drawing up the new Housing and Planning Act, and will serve to directly benefit from the further privatisation of housing provision that it enshrines.”
They are annoyed at the influence Savills has over housing policy, they told Brixton Buzz
“Savills are a major international development company and estate agents. Their interest in property is how best to turn private profit out of it.
“So why are Savills writing housing policy for the Government? And why are they in charge of setting up Lambeth Council’s new housing companies?
“Melissa Madjitey is an associate director of Savills. Until a few months ago she was also the vice-chair of Lambeth’s leasehold Council!
“She only resigned from the leasehold council after she was appointed as the project manager of Savills’ consultancy contract with Lambeth Council.
“A number of Lambeth residents complained that Madjitey, who was also chair of the Major Works Committee and the Brixton Area forum, had used these positions to influence council housing policy and to secure a commercial advantage when bidding for the contract.
“Lambeth have simply ignored these complaints and Neil Vokes from Lambeth Council justified the lack of public scrutiny be saying that ‘no residents were involved in the procurement of this deal as it was too technical.”
The protestors claim Savills should withdraw from advising the council and want an emergency public conference to consult with “residents, not developers” on tackling the borough’s housing crisis.
The Northcote Road branch was daubed with posters and both this and its neighbouring branches were closed for the whole day as a result. You can view videos of the protests over at The Brixton Buzz.
A spokesman for Savills told EYE: “Savills is a global company that advises on all aspects of residential and commercial property. Savills UK business includes a housing team which advises local authorities and housing associations.
“The demonstration was organised by a group from Lambeth and relates to that Council’s management of its housing stock. Because Savills housing team has provided some advice to Lambeth Council, the group decided to bring their protest to our door.”
It is not the first time estate agents in south London have been hit by protests. Foxtons has previously had to hire bouncers to protect its Brixton branch from activists from Reclaim Brixton unhappy at the gentrification of the area.