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Parishioners in east London win battle to build social housing on land close to their church

09 March 2018

Campaigners from St George-in-the-East on the site near by that has been assigned to a Community Land Trust

Campaigners from St George-in-the-East on the site near by that has been assigned to a Community Land Trust

CAMPAIGNERS from St George-in-the-East, in east London, have won their battle to have social housing built on land next to a railway line in Shadwell, close to the church.

The land, owned by Transport for London (TfL), has been assigned to a Community Land Trust, meaning that the 42 houses to be built on the site will be “genuinely affordable”. It is among ten sites owned by TfL which have been chosen for small housing developments. The Centre for Theology and Community says that, of the 111 houses being built, 76 will be affordable.

Churches and other religious groups have been working with the community organisation London Citizens to set up the Community Land Trust. The campaign has partly been organised by Canon Angus Ritchie, the Hon. Priest-in-Charge of St George-in-the-East. He told the East London Advertiser: “Making this land into a trust will guarantee affordable housing for ever.”

Canon Ritchie said that this “news from the Mayor of London shows what is possible when we organise together, and when govern­ment responds to the initiative of local citizens”.

In a blogpost, the Centre for Theology and Community wrote: “This has come about through community organising rooted in theological reflection and prayer.”

In November, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the C of E had a “huge responsibility” as a significant landowner to provide more affordable housing.

The Church Commissioners, who manage the C of E’s central assets, were “very big land­owners”, Archbishop Welby confirmed, during an interview with Robert Peston on ITV. Asked whether the Church could be doing more to encourage affordable housing, he said: “That’s something that we do have to look at more and more seriously. We have a huge responsibility as the Church” (News, 27 November 2017).

In the report Our Common Heritage: Housing associations and churches working together, the Centre for Theology and Community and the charity Housing Justice discovered that many churches around the UK were sitting on under-used land that could be used for housing(News, 12 June 2015).

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