New housing bid to stop ‘social-cleansing’ of Islington

Cllr James Murray: 'Drawing a line in the sand'

Cllr James Murray: 'Drawing a line in the sand' - Credit: Archant

A bold housing plan has been launched to prevent “social-cleansing” in Islington.

Under new rules, every home built by the town hall - whether for social or private rent, shared ownership or private sale - will go on offer to the borough’s residents before anyone else.

The scheme, which was given the nod by Islington Council’s ruling executive on Thursday, is in part aimed at preventing the borough becoming a ‘ghetto for the wealthy’, as feared by the council top brass following the election of the Conservative government.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “We want to build affordable housing. But to do that we have to sell some of it to make the figures stack up.

“New council housing already gets offered first to people who live on the estate where we are building it.

“But now so will any kind of home built by the council.

“Shared ownership properties will offered first to people who live in or have a connection to the borough.

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”Even the private sales will be offered first to people who private renters in the area who want chance to get on the property ladder, with the caveat they won’t be cheap.

“They’ll be very expensive because that’s how rents are in Islington, but at least they are being offered locally first.

“At the moment it’s something we can only apply to homes we build, but we feel it’s an important principle.”

Cllr Murray hopes the new policy will avoid the “social-cleansing” the Labour-run council fear may be visited on the borough by new the Conservative Government’s policies, such as an end to lifetime tenancies and extending the right to buy scheme.

“This will help with a few problems,” he said.

“It will help with the social cleansing the government seems even more intent on now.

“And the private sales will only be available to owner occupiers - not to people who want to buy-to-let or buy-to-leave.

“By making sure the sales are for people to actually live in, we are drawing a line in the sand against these properties marketed specifically for overseas investment.”

As long as the decision isn’t ‘called-in’ by backbench councillors in the next few days, it can be implemented immediately.

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