Affordable Housing Plans For Mile End And Newham Slums

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 79 months ago
Affordable Housing Plans For Mile End And Newham Slums

Two stories highlighting London's lack of housing: first, East London Community Land Trust hope to win their bid to turn the old St Clement's hospital in Mile End into affordable homes next week. The Homes and Communities Agency will decide which of the four bidders wins the right to redevelop the listed site, and it's being seen as a test of the government's policy to encourage community land trusts - non-profit organisations working with and on behalf of the community - to develop affordable housing.

The Trust has submitted a £65m plan for the site, which could see two- and three-bedroom homes sell for as little as £100k - well below the national average, let alone the stupid London average (the BBC reports the average price for a flat in Tower Hamlets is currently about £335k). The trust also plans a cafe and splash pool. However, they're up against three other bidders, no doubt with deeper pockets. The Mayor's housing adviser Richard Blakeway has insisted that whoever wins, the community will still "hold the entire freehold", whatever that means. Probably that it's going to private developers.

Second, the Independent has been in Newham discovering people living in so-called "super-sheds". But instead of a big, bright, pottering shed at the bottom of the garden, super-sheds are the latest incarnation of a type of slum that was common in the Victorian era - hastily thrown up dwellings in back gardens and courtyards. They're generally occupied by low earners, sometimes illegal immigrants, who are extremely vulnerable to the whims of their landlord - and the ramshackle structure itself and usual lack of sanitation.

Newham Council and Shelter are working to stamp these slums out but, without real affordable housing in the capital, the risk of landlord exploitation is always going to be there. Critics say Boris Johnson isn't doing enough to tackle the problem - what do you think?

Photo by Kai Hendry under a Creative Commons licence

Last Updated 08 September 2011

Dean Nicholas

There are some great pics here of an unsolicited tour around St Clement's hospital:


St Clements has been empty for ages - what's taking so long? The London Hotel site in elephant is empty, and going no where. The Heygate Estate is empty. Battersea is still dead. Dagenham dock stalled. Silvertown stalled. The air rights spaces above jubilee line stations were never developed...

If you add together all the missed opportunities you'd have tens of thousands of extra homes. City hall needs to remove the obstructions (frequently themselves) and put money into building homes.

You can house a few hundred in 100k flats, but the bulk will still be stuck in the private market. We need to build more homes in vast quantaties and improve public transport. Waiting for the private sector to do it, through a huge property boom, didn't work. No reason to believe it will work now.

Community land trusts (originally an idea put forward by Prescott's DDPM) are fine, but it's the money, permission and urgency to build that's missing.