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Campaigners win fight for ‘genuinely affordable’ homes to buy in Shadwell

PUBLISHED: 17:05 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:35 13 February 2018

Canon Dr Angus Ritchie (left) and pairhsioners at Shadwell campaigning for Land trust housing in Cable Street.  Picture: Florence Naluyimba

Canon Dr Angus Ritchie (left) and pairhsioners at Shadwell campaigning for Land trust housing in Cable Street. Picture: Florence Naluyimba

Florence Naluyimba

Campaigners have won a landmark victory for social housing at Shadwell that is to provide more than 40 families with genuinely affordable homes to buy.

Surplus TfL land next to the DLR and Fenchurch Street main line... to be East End's second land trust scheme. Picture source: LBTH Surplus TfL land next to the DLR and Fenchurch Street main line... to be East End's second land trust scheme. Picture source: LBTH

Parishioners at St George-in-the-East fighting to get surplus railway land released next to the DLR and Fenchurch Street main line have been told by the Mayor of London that the site can be used for land trust development.

It is one of 10 parcels of land being earmarked by City Hall for low-cost housing.

Parish activists led by Canon Dr Angus Ritchie have been working with other churches, mosques and schools affiliated to the London Citizens civic society network to set up a land trust in Shadwell, the second in the East End.

The cost of the homes will vary but they could be around 66 per cent of the market price.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs visiting proposed land trust site at Shadwell with Cllr Rachel Blake. Picture source: LBTH Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs visiting proposed land trust site at Shadwell with Cllr Rachel Blake. Picture source: LBTH

“Making this land into a trust will guarantee affordable housing for ever,” Dr Ritchie told the East London Advertiser.

“The news from the Mayor of London shows what is possible when we organise together and when local government responds to the initiative of local citizens.”

His parishioners joined members of the nearby Darul Ummah Mosque in Bigland Street on a “walk for affordable housing” in 2016 and found the surplus land off Cable Street, owned by Transport for London.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs signed a public statement of support last June for the campaign at London Citizens’ Shadwell Assembly at St George-in-the-East.

St Clement's site in Mile End... Britain's first urban land trust development. Picture source: London Citizens St Clement's site in Mile End... Britain's first urban land trust development. Picture source: London Citizens

He visited the site with his cabinet member for strategic development Rachel Blake, who said: “Land trusts offer hope to those priced out of London’s broken housing market. Unlocking TfL land in Shadwell will mean 100 per cent permanently affordable homes on the site.”

Britain’s first urban land trust was set up at the former St Clement’s hospital in Mile End in 2011, after a 15-year campaign by London Citizens.

It got the go-ahead in 2014 for housing in the six-acre grounds of the old Victorian workhouse which closed as a mental hospital 11 years ago. The first showcase apartment was opened last March for prospective home-buyers.

Families buy property at a fixed price below the London market rate, while the land is held in perpetuity by the trust. The property is sold back to the trust at an agreed sum when the family moves on.

Another plot being released for low-cost home ownership is at Portree Street in Blackwall, next to the Lea River.

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