Social housing NOT social cleansing: Lambeth activists frustrated by ‘undemocratic’ council

London is continuously struggling with issues of gentrification, affordable housing, sky rocketing property price growth and ambitious development projects, such as the recent Nine Elms scheme in Wandsworth.

While influential leaders such as Boris Johnson insist that investment is the key in unlocking London’s potential, many of its residents are becoming frustrated with local government’s alleged ‘social cleansing’.

Housing activists from across Lambeth have demanded the right to speak at the next full council meeting, through a demonstration entitled ‘Social Housing NOT Social Cleansing’ this week.

A group from Leigham Court in Streatham is calling for a halt on the planned demolition of their award-winning housing.

Their campaign group said: “Central government is not focused enough on social housing provision.

“Meanwhile, local authorities like Lambeth do not consult with their residents and make short-termist, undemocratic decisions that only make matters worse.”

Spokesperson for the Lambeth housing project who met on Wednesday, Julian Hall said that activists would go ‘as far as it takes’ to protect local communities and ensure a wider access to social housing.

The campaign group, who met at Lambeth Town Hall, are following in the footsteps of Hoxton housing estate, East London, where 300 protestors were joined by Russell Brand last Saturday to challenge the buyout of the estate by a private company.

Campaigners claim that their frustration with social housing is fuelled by the ‘faults of both national and local government and by the unchecked property market’.

Mr Hall said: “We want more social housing made available and, at the same time, we want to stop policies that limit the number of existing social housing units by selling off social housing stock that means mixed communities are broken up.”

Within Lambeth, both Leigham Court and Cressingham Garden residents are demanding the council swap demolitions for efficient home repairs.

Guinness Trust residents are urging the council to support them in a fight against their Housing Association, which has revealed controversial plans to evict residents in place of new flats.

It is a similar case for Housing Co-op residents who have already fallen victim to a £2m legal case for eviction.

By comparison, Vauxhall residents are opposing the contentious Nine Elms development, which they believe has created ‘monstrously overpriced high-rises with no social rented housing’.

Leader of Lambeth council, Lib Peck, defended the development, stating: “This major infrastructure is vital to Vauxhall’s regeneration and the opportunities that’s bringing for local people.”

When asked how the social housing campaign hoped Lambeth council would tackle its array of issues, Mr Hall suggested the use of rent control, the consideration of housing co-operative models and the re-using of empty homes in Lambeth.

He said: “Local authorities need to be able raise s106 quotas and then stick to them too.

“And, quite simply, they need to build more social homes not just the so-called ‘affordable’ homes.”

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