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Families in Wittering to lose homes as Ministry of Defence returns lease to Annington Homes Ltd

More than 70 households face losing their homes after the Ministry of Defence served them 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 military use, they are returned to the company which owns them.

The Ministry of Defence says it does not have a long-term requirement for 71 of the properties in Wittering and so has decided to hand them back to Annington Homes Ltd.

Residents living in Broadhurst Road are among those who face having to leave their homes. Photo: Google (42296128)
Residents living in Broadhurst Road are among those who face having to leave their homes. Photo: Google (42296128)

Debbie Brooks, who lives in one of the properties, said: “It basically means we are all going to be homeless - it’s awful. I have seen people in the street crying.

“I have adapted my house because I have disabled needs and have spent a lot of money levelling the garden.

“We were told when we took on the tenancy there was no chance of it ever having to be given back in our lifetime and that we could be here as long as we wanted.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said “tenants are required to seek permission from the landlord to carry out alterations and permission is generally granted on the proviso that the property is returned in its original condition”.

On Wednesday last week (September 9) residents were given a six-month notice period to leave the property.

A spokesman for Annington Homes Ltd said, despite being the effective freeholder of the properties, they “had no involvement in the decision to terminate these tenancies and were not previously aware of it”.

Debbie, who has lived in the house with her two children and husband for about 18 months, said it is
the only place that feels like home.

“My husband lost his job at the start of Covid so we can’t afford a deposit to go elsewhere which is heartbreaking,” she added.

“I’ve spoken to solicitors and they don’t think we can really do anything.

“If the contract is six months and they have to have it vacant then we don’t have a leg to stand on.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “As part of our responsibility to manage our estate effectively, any extra and vacant properties can be let on a short-term basis with tenants made aware of the notice period before they move in.

“We will work with our partners to try to identify alternative accommodation in the area for those directly affected.”

Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “It’s devastating because it’s become my home here for two years.

She added: “We don’t have anywhere to go for all of us to be housed.

“One of the things is the environment in the village which makes it a safe place to be.

“We’ve all become an amazing community so to take the children out of the school is devastating.”

The contract between the Ministry of Defence and Annington Homes states that the properties must be returned vacant.

However, both families are hoping that their lease will get swapped over to Annington Homes so they don’t have to move out.

On social media, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which is part of the Ministry of Defence, apologised that their “initial communication contained limited information” which they understand was “distressing”.

Residents are expected to receive further details from the Ministry of Defence soon.

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