Tooting MP Sadiq Khan has said he would use his powers as mayor to ban separate entrances for market rate and affordable housing tenants for new buildings.
But Mr Khan has slammed the growing trend for so-called ‘poor doors’ in his latest pledge in the race to be named Labour’s candidate for next year’s London mayoral elections.
Controversy surrounded a housing development in Commercial Street in East London last year, which advised private buyers that they would have an exclusive hotel style lobby while social tenants would have a separate door around the corner.
Mr Khan said: “We outlawed segregation in this country almost 50 years ago and I’m not going to allow it to rear its ugly head again.
“Poor doors segregate people who are living side by side and drive a wedge between our communities.”
This two-tier treatment can see access to facilities such as 24/7 concierge, gardens, secure parking and cycle storage limited to private tenants, and services such as refuse collection and mail deliveries separately maintained.
Defenders of separate entrances argue service charges paid by residents for premium facilities are the main reason affordable housing tenants are denied access to some of them.
A ban would make affordable homes less affordable, they caution, and could mean fewer genuinely affordable homes being built in the capital.
But Mr Khan has met with housing charities, developers, and architects to canvass opinion about banning poor doors and found many experts agreeing with him that the design of new homes in London should be built in social equality and dignity.
Mr Khan said that London should be ‘a beacon of inclusivity’ and a city for everyone, rich or poor.
“Our city is at its best where neighbours mix together and live side by side,” he said.
Following an outcry in New York, the city’s mayor moved last month to ban ‘poor doors’.
Boris Johnson ruled out a similar ban in favour of discouraging their use wherever possible.
He told BBC Radio London: “I don’t like them and they are something that I try to get out of the planning application if I can.”
A number of developments with segregated entrances have been agreed over the last year, all approved by the mayor.
Mr Khan, viewed as a frontrunner for the Labour nomination, is the only candidate so far to commit to banning ‘poor doors’.
He told South West Londoner that it comes down to a question about values, and wanting a London that rejoices in its social cohesion.
He said: “The Tories seem untroubled by the growing presence of ‘poor doors’ in our capital.
“Boris has done nothing about them and is content to see Londoners living separate lives from one another.
“I want the social homes that are built while I am mayor to be part of mixed and integrated communities, not stigmatised and segregated by poor doors.
“I’ll work with boroughs, planners and developers to ensure that becomes a reality.”