Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Two quick ways to stem London's housing crisis: Jerry Flynn

Social housing campaigner Jerry Flynn and family used to live on the Heygate Estate
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

Jerry Flynn used to live on the Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle in south London.
But the Heygate’s 1,200 council homes have gone.

But Flynn won’t go away.  
Flynn is a member of the Elephant Amenity Network, a group of local residents, traders and tenants campaigning for a “better regeneration of the Elephant and Castle area”.
EAN specifically runs a ‘35% Campaign’, calling for at least 35% affordable housing on all new Elephant developments.
“Half of these affordable homes should be social rented housing,” emphasises Flynn.

Flynn addresses one hundred tenants, residents and social housing activists at a meeting at Walworth Methodist Church in south London on 10 February.
Flynn outlines two immediate ways to stem London’s housing crisis.
“Stop demolishing council houses,” begins Flynn.
The demolition of the Heygate and Aylesbury loses us over 3,600 council homes in this Walworth ward.”

In return, Flynn explains, council tenants will get 2,000 ‘social rented’ units from both the Heygate and Aylesbury ‘regenerations.
“That’s a net loss of 1,600 social rented units,” says Flynn.
Similar net losses are repeated across London, says Flynn.
At Earl’s Court in west London and West Hendon in north-west London.

Flynn’s second suggestion: “Stop giving planning approval to developments that have no social housing.”
At the Elephant, six large developments rise out of the ground – Tribeca Square, Strata Tower, 360 Tower, Eileen House, One the Elephant, and Elephant Park.
“That’s 4,220 new homes,” says Flynn.
“Only 108 will be socially rented.
“That’s 2.5%.”
A long way short of the 17.5% demanded by the EAN.

Southwark Council could have rejected every one of these planning applications on the grounds they did not have enough social rented housing.
But only Eileen House, says Flynn, was rejected.
A rejection over-ruled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson who approved the application.
“Southwark’s planning committee must now get tough with developers and reject applications for developments that don’t have the minimum amount of affordable housing,” says Flynn.

The committee could start immediately with a new planning application from the Peabody Trust and the Ministry of Sound, says Flynn.
The development includes offices, a nightclub, 500 new homes and the second largest development so far in the Mayor of London’s Elephant and Castle Opportunity Area.
“It will have zero social rented housing,” says Flynn.

Instead of social rented housing, local people will be offered so-called ‘affordable rents’.
This new type of tenure allows rents to be set at levels up to 80% of the local market rental value.
“Even at 50% market rent, it would be way beyond the means of anyone living on a council estate – or any of the 20,000 on Southwark’s council house waiting list,” says Flynn.
“We must fight this application and the planning committee must reject it.”

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, February 2015

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here in Australia the same thing is happening. We are loosing our Public Housing (Council Housing) to either Community Housing groups (as you are aware have different policies and cherry pick their tenants) and the State Governments selling the land for minimal "social housing" (meaning community housing) Our homelessness has risen in direct flow on with these policies as Community Housing groups prefer those who work or their policies drive a tenant out of the formerly Public Housing home (now owned by the community housing group under the heading of Social Housing to confuse the 2)