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Bishops and community leaders urge politicians to get tough with developers on affordable homes

London Bishops and 100 community leaders today released an open letter calling on Secretary of State Sajid Javid to get tougher with supermarket developers who are proposing staggeringly low numbers of affordable housing in new developments and are tying up Councils with expensive legal appeals.

Signatories include the Bishops of Croydon, Stepney, Edmonton, Woolwich and Barking, as well as leaders from the Salvation Army, Methodists, Liberal Synagogues, Islamic Centres and schools and Universities across London.

Picture shows London Citizens' leaders: Rabbi Janet Darley, Father Sean Connolly, Reverend Angus Ritchie and Janet Emmanual, with the letter at the housing assembly on Wednesday

As increased public funding is expected for house-building in the upcoming Budget, the letter calls on the Secretary of State to respect the growing consensus in London that developers must offer far higher percentages of affordable housing from an average of around 17% in recent years to at least 35%.

It cites the recent example of a 683-home development by Sainsburys Ilford, Redbridge, that will provide just 4% affordable housing. Redbridge Council had previously refused planning permission unless the project provided 35% affordable housing but withdraw opposition after the case went to appeal to the Secretary of State.

The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian Newman, said:

Supermarkets are increasingly becoming property developers, some of them even selling the air above their shops for housing. The proposed Sainsbury’s development in Whitechapel is a case in point where the great majority of houses being planned will not be affordable. Teachers, nurses, bus drivers, and many more of the capital’s core workers will be priced out of this city unless more truly affordable housing comes from these new developments. London Citizens wants to ensure that when developers get planning permission, they provide 35% of truly affordable housing and that they don’t use lawyers and appeals to wriggle out of affordable homes commitments.”

Two new supermarket site redevelopments announced this month; a 806-home development by Meyer Homes on a Tesco site in Woolwich providing only 20% affordable homes, with a planning decision due by January 5th, [2] and a 559-home development by Sainsburys in Whitechapel providing only 25% affordable homes, are further examples of developers going far lower than the 35% affordable housing benchmark set by the Mayor in the London plan. Developers, with big supermarket chains amongst their number, are failing to meet affordable home commitments.

Sainsburys, which has just announced profits of £220 million, argued that provision of more affordable housing in Ilford was unsustainable, despite reportedly being due to make an estimated £40m profit on the scheme.

In 2015 Tesco made £250m from the sale of 14 land and supermarket sites from across London to Meyer Bergman, a major shareholder in Meyer Homes, a number of which are now being developed or in consultation.[3]

Tesco has sought to develop other sites through its subsidiary Spenhill development and in September had a 705 home scheme blocked by Secretary of State Sajid Javid after appeal, due to concerns over insufficient affordable housing.[4]

Bishops, clergy and community leaders this week joined member of Citizens UK and the Mayor’s Housing deputy James Murray at the Oasis Church, Waterloo, to discuss the London housing situation and progress made on promises made in April 2016, on financing community development, tackling rogue landlords and increasing the percentage of affordable homes.

Top of the agenda included a request for the Mayor of London to compel developers to offer at least 35% affordable housing in new developments and continue to call in sites across London that don’t meet this threshold.

According to research from property company Savills, the building of affordable homes across the UK halved from 61,050 in 2015 to 29,163 last year. The also said that only a fifth of households in the south east can afford to buy the average new home, and affordable properties here should cost no more than £250,000. The average house price in London is £435,000, while the average for the south east is £290,000.

Citizens UK Deputy Director, Matthew Bolton said politicians must work together to oversee responsible development:

“London is in desperate need of more affordable homes. The crisis of affordability is putting unbearable pressure on family finances, on community stability and on employers’ ability to recruit and retain staff. Citizens UK is calling on politicians and developers to make 35% affordable the new absolute minimum, and there is a growing consensus around this. The Mayor’s recent decisions in Mill Hill and Wandsworth where he called-in projects and pushed them up to 35% affordable housing are great examples. But we see elsewhere developers putting in applications and making appeals around schemes with scandalously low levels of affordable housing. With this letter we praise the Secretary of State Sajid Javid for making housing his number one priority, and for securing additional funding, but we need him to join the growing consensus that 35% affordable should be the minimum in all London developments.”

The letter:

Dear Secretary of State,

As the Government’s budget approaches, housing remains the number one concern facing Londoners. Citizens UK has 200 local communities in membership in the capital reaching 250,000 people, and increasing the provision of affordable homes is their highest joint priority. We are delighted that you have said that housebuilding is your top priority and that you are working to find additional funding to get Britain building. This letter urges you to focus also on affordable housing and to ensure that developers take responsibility for helping achieving at least 35% affordable housing in their London developments.

Last year at a 6,000 person Citizens UK assembly, we sent a clear message to London Mayoral candidates that tougher rules were needed to increase the amount of affordable housing in proposed developments. We celebrate signs that politicians are taking this seriously. The Mayor of London’s new Supplementary Planning Guidance on 35% affordable is already making a difference and we can see that in recent developments in Mill Hill and Wandsworth where the amount of affordable housing has been doubled. We were also pleased that you blocked the recent 700 home scheme in South London which had a proposal for just 13% affordable homes.

Amongst London’s citizens and elected representatives, a new consensus is developing in London that 35% affordable should be the new minimum. So we were shocked that in Ilford a scheme proposed by Sainsburys that was put in front of the Secretary of State was in the end accepted with just 4% affordable homes. Just this month we’ve heard of schemes with hundreds of homes being proposed by Meyer Homes at a Tesco site in Woolwich and Sainsburys in Whitechapel offering less than 25%. This simply isn’t good enough for many people struggling to live and work in our city.

As the budget approaches, it is excellent news to hear you are making housing a top priority and hopefully unlocking billions more to spend. But we need a commitment not just to more homes but to a higher percentage of affordable homes, at least 35% in London, and we need Londons' citizens, Local Government, the Mayor and National Government to work together to ensure this happens.

Signatories include:

Rt Revd Jonathan Clark

Bishop of Croydon

Rt Revd Adrian Newman

Bishop of Stepney

Rd Revd Rob Wickham

Bishop of Edmonton

Rt Revd Dr Woyin Karowei

Bishop of Woolwich

Rt Revd Peter Hill

Bishop of Barking

Anne-Marie Canning

Director of social mobility and student success, King's College London

Major Janet Martin

Camberwell Salvation Army

Major Nick Coke

Raynes Park Community Church

Rabbi Janet Darley

Kingston Liberal Synagogue

Bishop Louis McLeod

Lee New Testament Church of God

Andy Haines

Interim Chief Executive, Caritas Anchor House

Siobhan Malone

Headteacher, St Paul's Academy

Maggie Beirne

OLSJ Hanwell

Jacqueline Ashmenall

Churchwarden, Church of England

Bernadette O'Shea

West London Quakers

Lucy Winkett

Rector, St James's Piccadilly

Michal Sieracki

Our Lady of the Assumption, Bethnal Green

Sean Connolly

Parish Priest, St Stephen's, Manor Park

Lindsay Meader

Associate Rector, St James's Piccadilly

Deborah Colvin

Churchwarden, St James's Piccadilly

Luljeta Nuzi

Project director, Shpresa programme

Patricia Chinyoka

Adviser, MDC-T Party

Simon Perfect

Westminster Refugee Welcome

Sarah Holtam

West London Area Quakers

Trevor Lines

Churchwarden, St James's Piccadilly

Andrew O’Hanlon

Warden, Westminster Meeting House

Tom Gidman

St James's Piccadilly

Barbara Wilson

South London Citizens co chair

Chris Henriette

Rushey Green Primary School

Rev Alison Judge

Vicar, Merton Priory

Rev Dr Rosemarie Mallett

Vicar, St Johns Angell Town, Brixton

Sue Boyd

Martin Way Methodist Church

Peter Boyd

Martin Way Methodist Church

David Hurst

Sacred Heart RC Church, Wimbledon

Emma Cameron

St James's Piccadilly

Rev Paul Timmis

Minister, Martin Way Methodist Church

Paul Tulluch

Holy Trininty Wimbledon

Julie Khovacs

Assistant Priest, St Peter’s, Eaton Square

Marco Terlizzi

St James's Piccadilly

Paul Sylvester

St James's Piccadilly

Rev Edward Collier

Vicar, Copleston Church and Community Centre

Dr Greg Usher

CEO, Metro charity

Janet Emmanuel

Assistant Head, Sydenham School

The Venerable Alastair Cutting

Archdeacon Lewisham and Greenwich

Des Figueiredo

Pastor, Balham Community Church

Rev Alyson Peberdy

Vicar, St Saviours Brockley Hill

Rev Dr Stephen Sichel

vicar, St Matthew's Brixton

Rev David Musgrave

Brixton Hill Methodist

Roger Black

St Luke's Church, Battersea

Revd Dr Simon Woodman

Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church

Jodie Dore

St Lukes Church, Uxbridge

Amy Poole

St James Piccadilly

Rev Richard Taylor

St Barnabas Clapham Common

Nano McCaughan

St William of York RC Parish

Liieutenant Annette Wicks

Salvation Army Wimbledon

Mtr Ellen Eames

Senior management , St Gabriel's College

Father Michael Branch

Parish Priest, St Peter's Woolwich RC Church

Nick Le Friec

Transfrom Network

Sandra Horsfall

London Quakers

Paul Bickley

Pastor, Trinity Vineyard

Rev Andrew Dart

Superintendent Minister Lambeth Methodist Circuit

Jenny Lumley

St William of York

Joe Ball

St William of York

Richard Philpot

Church Warden, St James' Church

Fleur Brennan

Justice & Peace Representative for Refugees Welcome

Maddy Fry

St James' Church, Piccadilly

Father David Pennells

Vicar, Mitcham Parish Church

Rev Nigel Stone

Vicar, St Marks, Mitcham

Dr Sarfraz Jeraj

Rebecca Stockman

Area Director, YMCA

Tony Rich


Posted on 17 Nov, 2017