Housing in briefs - FRFI 262 February/March 2018

SouthwarkLatinx

Elephant & Castle: the fight against social cleansing

On 16 January, community organisers, traders and residents of Elephant & Castle in south London won a signficant victory as Southwark council’s planning committee voted 4-3 against accepting redevelopment plans that included demolishing the shopping centre and London College of Communications campus. The vote came after a seven-hour debate late into the night, as more than 200 objections to the application by offshore developer Delancey were put forward; outside the meeting, protesters who had marched to the town hall from the Elephant occupied the foyer making their opposition to the plans equally clear.

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Grenfell Fire: The fight for justice must intensify

grenfell silent march feb 2018
Grenfell silent march, 14 February 2018

Over seven months on from the Grenfell Tower fire, there is still an appalling lack of progress in achieving justice for its survivors, and in addressing the vital questions the disaster raises. The vast majority of households made homeless by the fire are still yet to be rehoused in permanent accommodation. No criminal charges have been brought against the local council, the Kensington & Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO) board, or Rydon, the contractor awarded £8.7m to carry out the lethal refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. The Public Inquiry has been delayed again, its legitimacy in tatters. Jack Lukacs reports.

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Why housebuilders make extortionate profits

extortionate profit 

Governments have repeatedly looked to housebuilding firms to solve the housing crisis in Britain. They are part of the crisis and profit from it; they are not the solution. Average house prices in Britain have doubled since 2000. Eight developers build over half of the country’s houses. A study by Sheffield Hallam University found that in 2012-2015, the biggest private housebuilders increased construction by a third, but tripled their profits. The four biggest housebuilding firms in Britain are Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Developments and the Berkeley Group. The returns made on the capital they invested in 2016 were Persimmon 39.4%; Taylor Wimpey 30%; Barratts 27.1% and the Berkeley Group 41.1%. These are relatively high rates of return. Together, the four chief executives of these companies paid themselves over £30m in 2016. In 2017, five directors of Berkeley Group got over £3m each; Persimmon’s chief executive is in line to receive a bonus of over £100m. Trevor Rayne reports.

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Action in solidarity with Grenfell survivors

On 22 November, the Revolutionary Communist Group held its third public meeting since the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in June this year. The meeting was held at the Maxilla Social Club in north Kensington. This venue has opened its doors to every kind of gathering for the last six months and we would like to thank Joe Walsh for his kindness and support.

Of course, this is not the only meeting place. Notting Hill Methodist Church is a centre of support for the neighbourhood. So too is a large area under the railway bridge and Westway overpass, opposite the burnt-out Grenfell Tower. This has been cleaned and furnished as a permanent social space. It was established by local people as an area of remembrance and for candle-lit vigils. It has a huge Wall of Truth with statements from the community, a Garden of Remembrance, refreshments, seating, warm clothes, pianos and a library as well as an altar and several large and beautifully painted murals.

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Haringey Labour ‘left’ fails to dent progress of HDV

hdv haringey

The judicial review of the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) started on 26 October 2017. HDV is a private joint venture between Haringey Council in north London and Australian developers Lendlease to parcel up vast tracts of council-owned land and assets worth £2bn for private development. A final ruling is expected before the end of the 2017.

The local StopHDV campaign initiated the judicial review, questioning the way that the HDV was set up. Thousands of council homes and public resources, including Wood Green library, would be lost under the plan. There has been no meaningful consultation with local residents: the Labour council has made it clear it will ignore Jeremy Corbyn’s call for them to be balloted over redevelopment plans.

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