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Land trust scheme for 40 low-cost homes at Shadwell gets £2m from City Hall to get ball rolling

PUBLISHED: 17:29 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:39 03 June 2020

The day Shadwell community celebrated disused railway yard being handed over for low-cost housing. Picture: Mike Brooke

The day Shadwell community celebrated disused railway yard being handed over for low-cost housing. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A land trust housing scheme for genuinely-affordable homes for people in Shadwell has been given £2million by City Hall to start building.

Old railway yard next to the arches of Fenchurch Street main line... soon to become cheap housing for 200 people. Picture: Mike BrookeOld railway yard next to the arches of Fenchurch Street main line... soon to become cheap housing for 200 people. Picture: Mike Brooke

Community activists led by the Canon and the Rector of St George’s-in-the-East parish set up the trust which was given disused land next to the DLR and Fenchurch Street railway in Cable Street last year by TfL.

The Mayor of London agreed that it could be used for a community land trust rather than be sold off for luxury flats on the property market and has now matched his words with cash.

“This is an important victory for people in this neighbourhood,” St George’s Rector Fr Richard Springer said. “So many families in this area are in desperate need of affordable housing.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed a £2m grant to fund the next stage of development to provide low-cost housing with 40 fixed-rate properties.

Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally gives Cable Street land trust project the Church's blessing in 2019. Picture: Mike BrookeBishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally gives Cable Street land trust project the Church's blessing in 2019. Picture: Mike Brooke

The parish has been campaigning since 2017 through Whitechapel’s East London Citizens Organisation to get the spare railway land for housing, where families on moderate incomes could buy their homes at a third of the London property market value.

The trust would retain the land, with the families selling their homes back to the trust at a fixed rate when moving on. This keeps the land in public ownership in perpetuity for future generations.

St George’s Canon Dr Angus Ritchie has been working with other East End churches as well as mosques and schools in the area to set up a land trust. He went on a “walkabout” with his parishioners and members of the nearby Darul Ummah mosque in Bigland Street in 2016 looking for any spare land that could be used for low-cost housing.

They found the disused depot next to the railway arches in Cable Street owned by TfL and eventually persuaded City Hall to let them have it.

Canon Angus Ritchie and  former Bishoip of Stepney Adrian Newman in 2019 with Holy Water to bless the land trust scheme in Cable Street. Picture: Mike BrookeCanon Angus Ritchie and former Bishoip of Stepney Adrian Newman in 2019 with Holy Water to bless the land trust scheme in Cable Street. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mr Ritchie and former Bishop of Stepney Adrian Newman then invited the new Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, to visit Shadwell when she first took office last year to formerly give the land the Church’s blessing.

The Cable Street scheme is only the East End’s second land trust, following Britain’s first urban land trust set up in 2011 in the former St Clement’s hospital in Mile End, after a 15-year campaign started in the 1990s by London Citizens.


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