Citizens UK call on MPs to back land trusts after General Election to solve housing crisis

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:24 02 March 2015

Boris Johnson drives bulldozer to launch London's first urban land trust last summer at St Clement's hospital site in Mile End [picture Gregory Lambert]

Boris Johnson drives bulldozer to launch London's first urban land trust last summer at St Clement's hospital site in Mile End [picture Gregory Lambert]

EL Land Trust

Campaigners are taking action today in calling on local authorities and MPs to support community land trusts to help solve the growing housing crisis.

St Clement's Hospital site in Mile End Road [picture: Joe Lord]St Clement's Hospital site in Mile End Road [picture: Joe Lord]

They want pledges from politicians in the run-up to May’s General Election to help families hit by what they call the “dysfunctional housing market”.

The activists gather at 1pm outside Mile End’s Southern Grove social welfare centre, in London’s East End with its crippling 22,000 housing waiting list, to meet Tower Hamlets council cabinet member Rabina Khan and Labour Opposition leader Rachel Saunders.

The council gave commitments before last May’s local elections that it would turn Southern Grove into a new land trust site—but campaigners say no work has been done since.

Land Trusts are not-for-profit organisations run to build and manage homes that are genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in their area.

The homes stay affordable for all future generations because the land is retained by the trust with the occupier owning only the property on it and selling back to the trust if they move on.

Britain’s first urban land trust was set up by east London’s Citizens UK, which is already under construction at the former six-acre St Clement’s Hospital site at Mile End, launched last year by London Mayor Boris Johnson (pictured).

Its chairman, the Rev Paul Regan, said: “We are calling on politicians to support land trusts which can contribute to the much-needed demand for more homes.

“Families are suffering by being squeezed out of the areas they call home, forced to leave their neighbourhood or having to pay exorbitant rents.”

Just five land trusts are currently at various stages of development in London out of 170 across the country.

Both Citizens UK and National Community Land Trust Network are asking political parties to commit to further land trust schemes after the General Election, which they say could triple the number of trust homes built during the next Parliament. London’s housing demand is predicted at 1.5 million new homes needed by 2050.

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