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Shailesh Vara MP for North West Cambridgeshire shares disappointment that families in Wittering will lose homes as Ministry of Defence returns lease to Annington Homes Ltd

An MP has expressed disappointment that more than 70 households will lose their homes after being served with an eviction notice.

All 433 Ministry of Defence houses in Wittering are currently held on a lease and when they are no longer required for future military use, they are returned to the company which owns them.

In September last year, the Ministry of Defence served Notices to Quit to 71 sub tenants in Wittering to enable them to return the vacant properties to the freehold owner, Annington Homes Limited.

Shailesh Vara MP for North West Cambridgeshire
Shailesh Vara MP for North West Cambridgeshire

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The MoD liaised with Annington with the intention of the current tenants remaining after hand back and made a comprehensive offer to Annington to facilitate this. Regrettably this offer has been declined.”

Shailesh Vara, the MP for North West Cambridgeshire, along with other MPs facing a similar situation in their constituencies, urged Jeremy Quin, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, to try to reach an agreement with Annington to return the houses back to them with the sitting tenants. However, they have been informed by Mr Quin that an agreement has not been reached.

Mr Vara said: “I am very disappointed that the Ministry of Defence and Annington have failed to reach an agreement whereby Annington would take back the properties with the sitting tenants.

“This is particularly so given the present climate of uncertainty and the pandemic.”

Mr Vara (Con) has begun discussions for Annington to sell their freehold interest to Peterborough City Council so the properties can become part of the council’s housing stock and enable the tenants to remain in the properties.

Coun Steve Allen (Con), cabinet member for housing at Peterborough City Council, said: “The council is committed to ensuring that Peterborough residents have access to good quality affordable housing, and we will do everything we can to support the residents of RAF Wittering at this difficult time.

“Officers of the council will be talking to Annington Homes in the coming days to explore what options are available, including the possibility of the council acquiring the homes as part of its plans to reintroduce council housing to the city.”

Speaking about what conversations took place with the Ministry of Defence, a spokesman for Annington said: “A dialogue was attempted between September - when we first heard about this - to December.

“A request for costs associated with taking these properties in order to evaluate the situation were not forthcoming from the MoD and the MoD is not prepared to cover all the liabilities we would inherit.”

Annington added it was actively trying to ensure residents have somewhere to live by looking at possibilities with housing associations and local authorities, and is prepared to explore options with Peterborough City Council’s housing department.

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