Empty and Rundown Properties

Lee Forum is working hard to engage with both Lewisham and Greenwich councils to bring empty properties in the local area back into use, and to bring substandard housing up to legal standards.

Often a problem property has to be highlighted to the councils, then the councils need to be persuaded that the property warants the use of the various powers they hold. The causes of problems are different for each property, ranging from absent or neglectful landlords; uncontactable, overseas owners; deliberate neglect with the intention of redevelopment; the property being caught up in probate or ill health issues, or being caught up in illegal activities such as money laundering. Lee Fourm investigate the causes and attempt to present solutions to the councils. Sometimes council officers are already investigating, in which case we work with them as ‘eyes on the ground’.  Just as the causes are multiple, so are the solutions. Often solutions are difficult and take time and effort.

Only councils are afforded powers to effect solutions, and for them the solutions are often not simple. The community can work with councils to help bring these buildings back into use after detailed liaison, through for example the use of environmental enforcement notices, empty dwelling management orders and S215 notices.

The following buildings have so far been improved:

159 Lee Road SE3 9DJ (Greenwich) – New Tiger’s Head, unsightly flyposting at ground floor level, dead pigeons on facade, leaking pipe health hazard inside, flyposting, leaking pipes and rotting floors. The building was on The Victorian Society’s Top 10 Endangered Buildings list for 2017. Lee Forum obtained the support of the local MP and press coverage. Lee Forum also gained access to gather evidence of black mould in flats, leaking pipes, danger to structures in the basement as evidence of need for the council to serve notices. The building was finally let out for retail following the service of a S215 notice by Greenwich council and two failed attempts by the owner to have it converted to residential use. We continue to push for an environmental notice to be served to improve the flats for tenants upstairs, after one was promised following a joint visit to the flats in 2018 before the relevant officer left the council and covid caused delays. Alongside Lee Forum, residents of the flats have open cases on the matter with the council.
Campaign group and photos here.

139 Lee Road SE3 9DJ (Greenwich) – convenience store and off-licence on ground floor with residential floors above, seriously dilapidated exterior with crumbling masonry, plants growing in stonework, broken guttering and holes in soffit board, roosting pigeons, falling tile hit a nearby parked car and narrow missed hitting a person as well as mould issues in residential flats – Lee Forum engaged with the council, providing evidence and impetus to act.  Extensive renovation work was carried out during the summer of 2018 following the serving of a S215 notice and environmental health order by Greenwich Council More photos here.


347-349 Lee High Road SE12 8RU (Lewisham) – upper floors above BetFred and ‘Garage’ entrance, dilapidated exterior with pigeon infestation due to broken and permanently open windows, falling pane of glass at the back of the building injured a staff member of the Old Tigers Head pub nextdoor, windows were boarded up for years. Lee Forum engaged with Lewisham’s Empty Homes officer, partly though petitions, who was already working to bring the property back into use and turned out to be as frustrated as the community at having eight empty derelict flats unavaialbe for housing in the borough. External improvements were carried out in 2018 following the council’s serviing of an empty dwelling managment order, but the building remains empty whilst the overseas owner is in a standoff with the council regarding utilities connection. The owner has a  second property in Brockely in which they are in a stand off with the council for reasons. Utitlities seem to be an excuse for a deeper reason why these flats are not being brought back into use. It does not help that the flats are owned by an overseas company, although the owners of the company have been traced. Petition asking the Council to take legal action here.


124 Lee Road SE3 9DE (Lewisham) – upper floors above Kingfisher Chinese takeaway, dilapidated and shabby exterior, although Lee Forum registered the property as an enforcement case in late 2016 the Council then said that it was not serious enough to take legal action. Petition asking the Council to take legal action here.

The owner has since improved the property and it is an example of how renovation can be done well.


Manor Park SE13 5RL (Lewisham) – this house was empty for more than 20 years – people nicknamed it ‘the falling down house’. It was boarded up, there were broken windows and debris over the front garden, and metal barriers were put in place to prevent access from the pavement, for safety and environmental health reasons. It had been caught up in complex financial dealings. Past attempts had been made to get something but failed. With the passage of time, Lee Forum tried a new initiative and this time Lewisham council responded by serving a S215 notice on the owner, and the property was renovated finally in 2018 and is now occupied.


Please watch this space for photographs and updates.

And please sign this national petition, calling for greater transparency from local councils over the way they tackle eyesore properties and enforcement cases. Thank you.