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Families start petition to Tower Hamlets council for affordable homes in Poplar

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 April 2017

Glyn Robbins launching housing petition to Tower Hamlets Council. [Picture: MIKE BROOKE]

Glyn Robbins launching housing petition to Tower Hamlets Council. [Picture: MIKE BROOKE]

Archant

Families feeling the squeeze on social housing have begun a petition calling for a ‘trade off’ with developers who they fear are ‘encroaching’ on one of the last pockets of the working class.

Sister Christine Frost. [Picture: MIKE BROOKE]Sister Christine Frost. [Picture: MIKE BROOKE]

The families in often run-down housing like the Will Crooks estate along Poplar High Street—many on the poverty line—are locked in an enclave surrounded by Docklands rejuvenation which threatens to ease them out by rising rents and property prices.

Now the South Poplar and Limehouse Action for Secure Housing—set up by Sister Christine Frost nearly 30 years ago—has been given £5,000 from the Church Fund’s ‘Near Neighbours’ programme for a six-month study of social housing.

The petition is part of the project being run by community activist Glyn Robbins which is focussing on just how much genuinely affordable, secure homes are being built.

“There is still some social housing remaining under Tower Hamlets council in enclaves like Poplar High Street, which is significant.

Sister Christine Frost at protest meeting in 2006 to stop council estates being given away. [Picture: ADVERTISER ARCHIVE]Sister Christine Frost at protest meeting in 2006 to stop council estates being given away. [Picture: ADVERTISER ARCHIVE]

“We comparing today’s community with 10 years ago when council estates were being transferred to private housing associations,” he told the Advertiser.

“We know for sure that working class communities in Poplar are threatened on all sides and are trying to forecast what it might be like in 10 years’ time to see if it’s getting worse.”

He sees the encroachment of Canary Wharf to the south, the Blackwall Reach development to the east and the rebuilding to the north of the A13 East India Dock Road.

“They’re building and building, which is housing people,” Glyn acknowledges. “But there are questions about whether these new homes are genuinely affordable.”

He sees the biggest ‘threat’ to the south where Canary Wharf is expanding towards Poplar High Street.

“You can’t stop it,” he says philosophically. “But we have to demand, as Sister Christine did 30 years ago, not to allow these massive changes without benefits for the families in the area.

“There must be some ‘trade off’, something given back to the community.”

The petition currently is going to Tower Hamlets council’s meeting on May 22 demanding private developers increase the ratio of “affordable” social housing higher than the 20 per cent.

Sister Christine said: “We’ve been fighting three decades for homes that help people stay in the area, instead of squeezing them out. Our petition by hundreds of people demands more genuinely affordable homes.”

She is calling for the redevelopments at Blackwall Reach and Canary Wharf’s South Quay to bring “lasting benefits” to the East End community.

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