Islington MPs Corbyn and Thornberry lead debate on London’s housing crisis

Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry - Credit: Archant

Both of the borough’s MPs spoke out on Islington’s housing crisis in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday (February 5).

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn - Credit: Archant

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn said there was a serious risk of providing “housing for the wealthy and homelessness for the poor” while Islington South MP Emily Thornberry said that communities were dying “before our very eyes”.

They also attacked planned developments at the Royal Mail Group’s Mount Pleasant site and at the Archway Tower, which are set to offer little to no affordable housing, for pricing out all but the rich in the borough.

The average house price in Islington had reached £602,908 at the end of last year and prices in Islington have more than doubled in the last 10 years, rising by 112 per cent – second only to Hammersmih and Fulham.

There are currently 18,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in the borough with 2,000 living in over-crowded conditions.

Ms Thornberry said: “People on average and low incomes in London are being pushed out of Islington.

“What kind of society are we going to be left with when people who have lived their whole lives in Islington are forced to scatter across outer London?

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“Our community will die, we see it dying in front of our faces but we have to fight it.”

Islington Council has set out a plan to spend almost £1.5billion on providing 2,900 new homes in the next 30 years and is committed to 50 per cent of all new housing being “affordable”.

However, these plans have been dented by developers taking advantage of relaxed planning laws over office to residential conversions in May 2013, which prevent the council from having a say in the calibre of new homes.

Mr Corbyn, addressing the debate, said: “But what kind of a city are we living in when we encourage the development or ownership of large, expensive properties for investment in land banking for very wealthy people to occupy.

“Some of them are used – I understand – for up to two weeks a year in some of the locations and at the same time we have people sleeping on the streets, we have hostels that are very hard to get into, we have young people growing into middle age staying with their parents and sleeping on sofas because they cannot get anywhere to live.”