THE Government must “get tougher” with supermarket giants over housing developments that are pricing out Londoners and tying up borough councils with expensive legal appeals, bishops have urged.
The Bishops of Stepney, Croydon, Edmonton, Woolwich, and Barking were among the 100 faith and community leaders, alongside the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to sign an open letter to the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, last Friday.
Headed by the campaign group Citizens UK, the letter asks that the minimum provision of affordable housing in London developments is raised from the current average of about 17 per cent to at least 35 per cent.
The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian Newman, said this week that supermarkets should not be allowed to “wriggle out” of affordable-homes commitments with lawyers and appeals. “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.”
The letter gives the example of a 683-home development proposed by Sainsbury’s, in Ilford, in the borough of Redbridge, four per cent of which will be affordable housing. Redbridge Council had previously refused planning permission unless 35 per cent of the development was affordable housing, the letter says, but it withdrew after an appeal was made to the Secretary of State over the case.
The deputy director of Citizens UK, Matthew Bolton, said: “The crisis of affordability is putting unbearable pressure on family finances, on community stability, and on employers’ ability to recruit and retain staff.
“Developers [are] putting in applications and making appeals around schemes with scandalously low levels of affordable housing. . . We need [Mr Javid] to join the growing consensus that 35 per cent should be the minimum [provision of affordable housing] in all London developments.”