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Churchgoers out on the street in Shadwell push for railway arches land deal

PUBLISHED: 19:19 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 19:28 30 October 2017

Churchgoers from St George's-in-the-East and their Muslim neighbours in 'act of witness' at Shadwell in land trust campaign. Picture: Florence Naluyimba

Churchgoers from St George's-in-the-East and their Muslim neighbours in 'act of witness' at Shadwell in land trust campaign. Picture: Florence Naluyimba

Florence Naluyimba

Worshippers took to the streets after their Sunday service in a London Citizens campaign for ‘affordable’ housing in the East End.

St Clement's former hospital in Mile End before being redeveloped as Britain's first urban land trust. Picture: Joe Lord/Archant St Clement's former hospital in Mile End before being redeveloped as Britain's first urban land trust. Picture: Joe Lord/Archant

Churchgoers at St George-in-the-East were joined by their Muslim neighbours in a campaign for a community land trust in Shadwell.

They want a spit of land owned by TfL between Cable Street, Cannon Street Road and the Fenchurch Street railway arches.

“Making this land into a trust will guarantee affordable housing for ever,” St George’s Priest in Charge Fr Angus Ritchie told the East London Advertiser.

“Churches in east London are at the heart of the Living Wage campaign. Stories our people tell and teachings of the Scriptures inspire us to work for affordable housing as well.”

How St Clement's will look... and what could happen at Cable Street railway arches if land trust deal goes through. Picture: Linden Homes How St Clement's will look... and what could happen at Cable Street railway arches if land trust deal goes through. Picture: Linden Homes

The congregation returned to the church after yesterday’s ‘act of witness’ at the site, where Muslim and Christian neighbours gave their reasons for being involved.

Selina Alam said: “I can see from my window that space which is green and empty. We’ll have a building the whole community can benefit from if we work together.”

Philip Hogan said: “I’m fortunate to have an affordable home near my work. That makes me realise how important it is to win this for others in the parish.”

The campaign has already won backing from Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs and his cabinet as well as opposition group leader and Shadwell ward councillor Rabina Khan.

A TfL decision on whether the land can be handed over for a land trust is expected in the next few weeks.

It could follow Britain’s first urban land trust set up in 2011 by London Citizens civil society organisation, which got the go-ahead in 2014 for housing in the six-acre grounds of the Victorian St Clement’s workhouse in Mile End Road, which closed as a mental hospital 10 years ago. The first showcase apartment was opened in March this year for prospective home-buyers.

A land trust retains the ground freehold while the homes are sold for a fraction of the property market. The homes are sold back to the trust at the same market ratio when householders moves on, to be sold to the next buyers on the same deal.

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