First meeting of fairness commission focuses on housing crisis

Local people need to benefit from new developments in Tower Hamlets, according to housing experts who appeared at the first meeting of the Tower Hamlets fairness commission last week.

Former Canon of St Paul’s and chair of the commission Dr Giles Fraser oversaw a lively discussion between audience members and various panels of experts from the housing industry at the meeting, held at the Christian Street Community Centre in Shadwell.

Themes included the history of the population of Tower Hamlets to potential solutions to the borough’s housing shortage.

Representatives at the meeting included housing association chiefs, the Greater London Assembly’s head of housing and academic experts on housing and planning.

Duncan Bowie, a housing expert and senior lecturer at the University of Westminster, criticised the amount of commercial development in Tower Hamlets in recent years.

“The council needs to introduce licensing”, he said.

“There’s been far too much development in Tower Hamlets in the last 15 years. Councils need to be stricter about what’s being built, and for whom.

Most Read

“It’s crazy that a third of new development is not used for local needs”, he added.

Among the audience at the meeting, was chair of the Tower Hamlets federation of tenants’ and residents’ associations Phil Sedler.

“They seem to be genuine enough people on the commission”, he said. “It’s good that it’s open to the public like this.”

On whether the commission could solve the housing problems he encounters in his role, he said: “It’s whether we have the power to do anything, because the council is so restricted by government policies.”

The next public meeting is due to be held on January 31, and the commission expect to produce their report early next summer.