West Londoners have hit out at a “bombshell” council letter which left them fearing they could lose their homes.

Families next to a Richmond estate set to be bulldozed said they went through “unnecessary stress” after being told to send details of their property rights or face prosecution.

Residents on Ashburnham Road and Woodville Road, which surround the Ham Close estate, said they were sent “poorly worded” letters in August, telling them a compulsory purchase order on Ham Close could affect their property rights.

This came as a shock to families as they would only be living opposite a “building site” for a few years.

Richmond Housing Partnership has now confirmed to the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it will not buy any homes outside of Ham Close estate as part of the Ham Close estate revamp. 

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Ham Close estate (photo: Charlotte Lillywhite/LDRS)Ham Close estate (photo: Charlotte Lillywhite/LDRS) (Image: LDR)

RHP said only homes on the estate will be bought so they can be bulldozed and rebuilt.

The letter asks the residents to send details of their interests in land highlighted in a map, showing the estate and their homes.

It says the information is needed to identify “what property interests and rights may be affected by the proposals” and that it “may need to acquire a right” over land.

It adds: “The council will use reasonable efforts to acquire all business and property interests required to facilitate the proposed development by agreement and will use a range of approaches, including early acquisitions.”

Residents were told they could be hit with a fine up to £5,000 if they took more than two weeks to respond after receiving the letter.

Families told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the letter had caused “unnecessary stress” as it was “poorly worded” and made them fear their homes could be snapped up.

Pauline Franckeiss, 69, said her neighbours were “annoyed” as the letter warned they could face prosecution if they didn’t complete the survey in 14 days.

Fearing her home could be bought, she said: “This straight away has devalued our house, with this hanging over us it is straight away devalued.

"Now if we were on the market and we had a buyer what would that buyer do? Pull out… it’s not something that they should have done so lightly for the damage that’s already done.”

She said: “Wouldn’t you think that the council would have sent out a letter prior to that… explaining what they were doing or what they might have to do rather than just send out a letter saying fill this in or you’re going to get a £5,000 fine?” 

Her partner, Herb, said he read the letter three times as it was a “bombshell”.

He also said their daughter, Carly, had been “in tears” over the notice.

Resident Anna Haigh, 44, said: “I didn’t think that it would affect us other than having a building site opposite our house for a while, the effects of parking and all the other things.”

She added: “This is the first that we’ve heard that it would affect these houses in any way other than noise and disturbance.” 

Andy Neill, 47, said the letter was worded “poorly” and “sent people into a flurry”.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Andy Neill on Woodville Road with Ham Close estate in the background (photo: Charlotte Lillywhite/LDRS)Andy Neill on Woodville Road with Ham Close estate in the background (photo: Charlotte Lillywhite/LDRS) (Image: LDR)

He said: “The talk of the development has been going on for like 10 years, I know communication has been a bit patchy.” 

He said: “I can’t see why they would need to [acquire the homes] so I think the way they’ve gone about it has caused people unnecessary stress.”

Birant Talug called the letter “shocking” and was also confused about what it meant.

The 53-year-old said: “What will happen to us? It’s my life, my lifestyle and my standards… It’s unbelievable. I like this area and I don’t want to move from here.” 

RHP has now confirmed to the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the order may impact residents in the surrounding homes, but not include buying their homes.

The company said the scheme, also being delivered by the council and developer Hill Residential, will provide better homes and new community facilities.

A spokesperson for RHP said: “These letters are part of a routine but necessary information gathering exercise and were accompanied by a Request for Information questionnaire.

"The questionnaire aims to determine any interests or rights of persons or parties living in or around Ham Close, so that these can be fully understood and accounted for.

"The questionnaire follows a legal template.

“Richmond Council, which holds the powers to make the Compulsory Purchase Order, will not acquire any properties that are outside Ham Close and the land proposed for regeneration as detailed in the planning application red line boundary.

“RHP understands that some persons or parties may feel concerned by receiving this letter.

"The letter advises them to contact Simon Cavanagh, the regeneration manager if they have any questions, or to contact the land referencing service for assistance filling out the questionnaire.”

The plans for Ham Close estate would see all 192 homes bulldozed and replaced with 452 homes across blocks up to six-storeys tall. 

Richmond Council is considering the application for the estate revamp.