New Bishop of London blesses old railway yard in Shadwell to be used for land trust housing
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The new Bishop of London has been welcomed by children and parishioners in Shadwell to bless a dilapidated railway yard campaigners hope to turn into genuinely-affordable land trust housing.
Dame Sara Mullally, the first-ever woman bishop of London, came on a flying visit today to St George’s-in-the-East parish to look at the disused yard in Cable Street next to the Victorian archers of the main line Fenchurch Street railway. The old cobbled yard has been promised by the Mayor of London to be used for land trust housing.
“We have to be much more imaginative in finding solutions to housing,” she told the East London Advertiser on today’s flying visit.
“The housing shortage is a serious issue right across London, but the community in Shadwell has come together which shows how strong they are to address the real issue of affordable housing in an area like this.”
The unused land that she came to bless—still locked up with spiked metal fencing around it—was found going begging by Shadwell’s priest-in-charge Angus Ritchie.
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Angus was on a walkabout with his parishioners looking for suitable land to help solve the chronic housing shortage when he passed the disused yard next to the viaduct that carries the Southend main line and DLR services, two minutes from his church.
The mayor of London has promised it can be used of land trust housing and is soon to announce who gets it.
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The trust would hold the land in perpetuity for future generations. Families would lease a home of their own in the housing complex, based on the average East End working wage and would sell back to the trust on the same terms when they move on.
Youngsters waving banners calling for land trust housing lined up outside the old yard to greet the new bishop.
She posed for pictures with them, along with Fr Ritchie and the Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, who invited her to Shadwell for a thanksgiving service at St George’s.
Dame Sarah then blessed the yard with Holy Water before being whisked off on her first tour of the East End since becoming bishop in December.
She was formally the country’s Chief Nursing Officer and had worked 30 years as a nurse in the NHS in London who was knighted in the New Year’s Honours. Her formal inauguration as the first woman Bishop of London takes place later this month at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The church is an avid supporter of the land trust movement to break the barrier for the average working family to buy their own home. The movement is already working with Britain’s first urban land trust nearing completion just two miles away at the old St Clement’s hospital site in the Mile End Road.