Quoc Ton Luu and his wife Pam live in a council property on the third floor of Austin House. They have lived here for 30 years and brought up their four children in this flat. All four children, two boys and two girls with the eldest 48 years old, have moved out already, and until 20 years ago, Quoc Ton’s mother lived with them as well.
Quoc Ton came to Britain as a Vietnamese refugee in the 1980s. They lived in Newcastle for 5 years before moving to London. “My son liked London so we followed him”, he laughs. “There were no jobs in Newcastle but there were jobs in London so we moved here”, he adds.
Quoc Ton is a retired carpenter and has put down all the floors in the flat himself and made all the beautiful doors as well. He’s also a keen gardener and the window sill in the living room is adorned with colourful orchids. He also grows Ginseng on the balcony, making the approach to the front door look very inviting. Generally, despite his age, he’s a very active man and still goes jogging regularly. Quoc Ton likes living in Austin House and would like to stay. “I like living here, I like the area. It’s near all the stations, it’s very handy.” When I ask him how he feels about the demolition plans, he takes a pragmatic stance. “If everybody else will move, I’ll move. I will follow other people. But living here is better for me. I prefer staying here.” When I ask him if he would make all the floors and doors again himself if he had to move to a new place, he replies “yes, of course” with a smile.