A COMMUNITY rocked by an explosion on Valentine’s Day fear the redevelopment of their homes is an opportunity for their landlord to socially cleanse the area.

Nine months after a blast ripped through flats in Gibbs Crescent, which killed 48-year-old Guido Schuette and made 11 residents homeless, their neighbours are also about to be given their marching orders.

During a meeting with A2Dominion at West Oxford Community Centre - the housing association running the flats - residents were told they were planning to transform the crescent with brand new homes.

Oxford City Councillor Susanna Pressel said the news has caused widespread anxiety in the estate.

She said: “Some of them are saying this is social cleansing, they say the same thing happened recently at Luther Court, which is also owned by A2Dominion.

“There are several big problems with what A2Dominion is proposing.

“The first is that they intend to put in a planning application for a ‘mixed development’ and what they mean is that 86 social housing units will be replaced by a new development, roughly the same size, but with only 50 per cent social housing.

“We desperately need more social housing, not less.”

The new plans look at including flats of different sizes, replacing the current units which are one-bedroom flats or bedsits.

Ms Pressel added: “This means that the residents who live there now may not be able to move back into the new development.

“Some are keen to do so, but when I asked them, A2Dominion refused to guarantee that people would be able to move back in.

“Some of them have lived there since it opened in 1989.”

If the redevelopment goes ahead residents were told they would receive a statutory home loss payment - which is set by the government - of £6,100.

Ms Pressel said: “Some people have spent thousands of pounds making their flats look really lovely, but they would all get the same fixed amount to compensate them for losing their home.

“A2Dominion also refused to say if the rents for the new properties will be higher.

“All this is causing huge anxiety for the poor residents: they will lose their homes, probably for good, and they may have to live very far away.

“They are also worried about what happens if they are offered something that they really don’t want.”

A2Dominion insists it is only in the very early stages of looking into a redevelopment, with no definite timeline of plans.

Intensive neighbourhood officer Tina Proctor said: “Should we go ahead, residents will need to be moved to alternative homes.

“We will work with the city council to ensure residents are prioritised and we will offer one to one support to make this process as easy as possible for our residents.

“Any legal tenant having lived in a property for more than 12 months and being required to permanently move from their home is entitled to a statutory home loss payment and they will also be able to claim towards removals and other moving expenses.

“In the meantime, residents are urged to let me know if they have any issues. I am on site most days and my priority is to support our residents as best I can.”