Greenwich Council has been accused of “bullying tactics” after 29 households were threatened with court action if they do not vacate their homes.

The court orders were delivered last week to families in the Ferrier Estate’s Gallus Square area, giving them a Woolwich County Court date of November 16 and threatening to hit them with the council’s legal costs.

Kidbrooke’s rundown estate is being demolished and rebuilt in a £1bn regeneration project, with around 1,500 households already moved out since 2004 and scattered around the borough.

But the Ferrier Residents Action Group says Greenwich Council is forcing out more families so the next phase of work can start by March - the deadline to claim £21m in Homes and Communities Agency funding.

Chairman Nick Russell said: “This is the first time the council has used bullying tactics.

“At the heart of the problem is the lack of suitable homes for the residents to be decanted into.”

The residents' group was set up by the council at the start of the project as a steering group. But vice-chairwoman Jean Hunt said it was now being treated by the local authority as "grit in their shoe". News Shopper: Families around Gallus Square have been hit with court orders

She said: “Greenwich Council have been diabolical all the way through this - absolutely diabolical.

"People feel like they have to accept whatever they’re offered to avoid court. Some families are being reduced to tears.”

David Terry and his 62-year-old wife Carol, who has just undergone chemotherapy for lymphoma and recently broke her hip, have agreed to move to temporary accommodation in Dando Crescent but still received a court order last week.

Mr Terry, a 62-year-old maintenance engineer said: “The last thing we want to do is pick up and start moving now.

“We’ve had nothing in writing but were told everything would be withdrawn if we accepted this property.

“I can’t see why we’re being treated like this.”

The couple will only be able to see their new home on November 15 - the day before they are due in court. News Shopper: parts of the estate have already been demolished

Another family told News Shopper they had been sent a court order even though they agreed to move out into different accommodation one year ago.

Just 80 new affordable homes have been built in the project so far around Sutcliffe Park and Mr Russell warned these properties they more cramped than the current ones and too expensive for many families.

He said: "In the meantime at a time of high need for affordable housing, nearly 1,500 Ferrier Estate homes now stand empty. Less than 300 households remain in occupation.

"The estate now resembles a ghost town."

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Councillor Spencer Drury has also been highly critical of the council's approach.

He said: "Labour has mishandled this process from the very beginning and now we find that the demolition appears to be simply a charade to suggest work has started when in fact no rebuilding is taking place.

"Labour have refused to discuss the issue when Conservative Councillors have raised it and are now rushing through evictions to ensure a final deadline can be met. " News Shopper: Ferrier Estate in Kidbrooke

The Tenants Services Authority is currently investigating the council's actions.

A council spokesman said: "To date, over 1,400 tenants have been rehoused and existing tenants will be prioritised for the new homes."

He said: "Greenwich Council recognises the concern and anxiety that tenants feel when they receive a Notice of Seeking Possession, and we have a dedicated rehousing team on the estate which is giving the highest priority to working with the tenants who have been served with notices.

"Each tenant has already had an assessment of their individual housing needs and we are committed to ensuring that all tenants are offered alternative accommodation that meets their needs.

"Under our rehousing policies tenants are entitled to two offers of suitable alternative accommodation.

"We are confident that we will meet all residents’ needs without the need for repossession, which would only be used as a last resort.

He said that work was underway on the first three phases of the regeneration for which planning approval has been given.